VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - Tidewater Veterans Memorial in Virginia Beach is one of the area's biggest Memorial Day services and it is celebrating its 25 th special salute to troops this year. But that anniversary is not what makes this place or this day so special.
A 21-gun salute is a traditional tribute to those who are killed in action, but the devotion and care Americans invest to insure that they are not forgotten speaks much louder than a rifle's report.
"A tribute to one veteran is a tribute to all veterans," said Admiral William Gortney, U.S. Fleet Forces Commander.
Vietnam Veteran Johnny Johnson's tribute is for hundreds that fought with the 27th Marines in Vietnam.
"We ah, lost 272 KIAs," Johnson said.
Johnson believes the nation has come a long way since the Vietnam War era in its ability to acknowledge the importance of the sacrifice made by those who paid the ultimate price for freedom.
"I think it was a long struggle, and I think finally the country couldn't separate the veterans from the politics that decided to go to war," Johnson said. "Because for many years we confused the two."
Our attitudes may be changing, but the pain from the sacrifice brought on by war remains constant for those who are left behind.
"Memorials like this one serve to stir our passions..." said Gortney.
Gortney recalled the words of John Stewart Mills to remind us that the cost of indifference is much greater than the price of war: "The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free..."
And so on this day, we are free to remember those who were willing to pay the cost of our liberty.
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