As towns across the country mark Memorial Day with parades and ceremonies, many people reflected on the lives that have been lost in service to our country. Whether it was family, friends or strangers who died, our Cara Thomas says everyone reflected on this holiday differently.
POTSDAM, N.Y. -- Memorial Day, an annual holiday that means different things to different people. Some recognize it as the beginning of summer, the day to reopen the pool or the first picnic of the year. But the true meaning is so much more.
"We celebrate the people who died in the war," said Daniel, a young Potsdam resident.
Potsdam's VFW Post Commander Robert Staires said, "We all know people who didn't come back, whether it's a relative or a close friend, whether you were in war time or you were in training. Again, that's what Memorial Day is about: Remembering those who didn't come home."
The Town of Potsdam held its yearly parade and ceremony Monday morning. And hundreds gathered to remember those who lost their lives while fighting for their country. To some, the day means more now that their own loved ones are overseas.
Potsdam resident Jill Jacobs said, "It means a lot more to me, like when we go to memorials and I see and they said the names are people now, whereas, before my son was actually a Marine, it was, oh yeah, that's a name."
And for others, the day brings back painful memories.
A veteran shared during the ceremonies, "My brother starved to death in a Japanese prison camp. It's been a hard memory and I hope that nobody in my lifetime will ever have to experience such a thing again."
But the message that rang clear throughout the ceremony, was that the famous quote, "Old soldiers don't die, they just fade away" is incorrect. Potsdam's Deputy Mayor says old soldiers do die, but they should never fade away. He encouraged the public to always remember their history and what all soldiers have done for their country.
"In most cases, our fallen comrades didn't fade away, they were simply forgotten," said Deputy Mayor Ron Tischler.
"Come show some respect for the veterans. You live free because of us and because of the people who didn't come home," said Commander Staires.
Potsdam also honored the soldiers who died at sea by placing a wreath into Raquette River.