DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Hundreds of veterans and their families attended a Memorial Day ceremony at the National Cemetery located at the Dayton VA.
Each headstone was accompanied by a miniature America flag as people from all across the country paid their respects to the men and woman who bravely served and protected our country.
“What you are looking at is 113 acres of why we are free,” said Doug Ledbetter, the Director of the Dayton National Cemetery. “As Ronald Reagan once said, long before he was president, freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”
98-year-old Private James H. “Pee Wee” Martin parachuted down from the sky on D-Day, also playing a part in Holland’s liberation from Germany in WW2.
Martin served as the guest speaker for the ceremony.
“They (his fellow veterans) had heated suits that often failed. People don’t realize how many of them lost hands and feet,” said Martin.
In the decades since Martin left the battlefield, he has found time to turn people who were once his enemies, into friends.
“I’ve met several of them. Became friends with several of them. People say how can you be friends with people that did the things they did? You know what. Our side did the same things,” said Martin.
2 NEWS Today’s John Seibel, an Air Force veteran himself, served as Master of Ceremonies, saying today is not a celebration. It’s a day to pay tribute to the ones who paid with their lives so that we can be free.
“We gather here to honor these heroes. Knowing that as extensive as our language is. With as many words we have and as fancy as speakers we may be…We will never have the words to describe what it means for what they did for us,” said Seibel.