ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Millions of Americans are paying tribute Monday to honor, remember and reflect on those who paid the ultimate price in service to our country. In Rochester, after a year without gatherings, people were meeting together again for Memorial Day Observances.
"This is awesome to be part of this," Veteran Max Campbell said.
Veterans and citizens, young and old came together at the Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial to pause and remind themselves of the sacrifice.
"I came home whole and sound. And Ray came down to the cold ground," one poet read.
Kambell helped bring the memorial to life more than 20 years ago. He says it feels great to be together in person again, to honor the fallen.
"Primarily it's supposed to be, to let people know what the military did for them," he said, reflecting. "And why they're here because of them."
The holiday hits close to home for retired Marine Sofia Ehlers.
"I remembered getting into a special unit and a few weeks into that unit, it was Memorial Day," she said reflecting on her first year of service. "And, we actually got pulled aside and found out that one of the marines lost their lives. It was an immediate imprint of what this weekend and what this day really means despite what it was built around."
Memorial Day is often coined the "unofficial" start to summer. While it may seem celebratory, Ehlers wants to remind Americans why we recognize it.
"I think one thing we forget on Memorial Day, it's not necessarily a celebration first. An aftermath of it is," Ehlers said. "But, it's also a day of remembrance and the one thing that we forget is that this day is only here because of what was shed by citizens who went forth and fought for our rights. I really want to make that the first and foremost thing. They did that as the sacrifice for our freedom and for the freedom and liberty of others. But, they also did this in the likeness of Christ. Coming here and remembering the shedding of blood is also a reminder of what example that sets forth for everyone."
Ehlers adds that it's also important to appreciate the small size of the memorial because as time goes on, more names of fallen military members will be added to the list.