There was no celebration Monday morning at Biloxi National Cemetery. Clouds of gray cast an ominous shadow of the moss-strung oaks that line the cemetery, the final resting place for thousands of men and woman who have served the country in one of its branches of the military.
The weather fit the tone for the Memorial Day ceremony, which was moved indoors because of the chance of inclement weather. It was, rightfully, a serious and somber affair.
About 200 veterans and civilians alike filled the auditorium on the campus of the VA Medical Center to pay their respects to those who women and men who gave their lives for their country.
“This is a day of personal remembrance,” said event organizer Jerry Miscavage.
Cemetery director Celethia Reed said those who died while serving will be remembered.
“What they chose to defend may have resulted in their deaths, but they chose to do it anyway,” Reed said. “They serveed for the greater good — they will not be forgotten.”
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, was started after the Civil War and was first observed in 1868 when the more than 20,000 graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers were decorated in Arlington National Cemetery. On Saturday, American flags were placed on the grave markers at Biloxi National Cemetery.
“There are more than 17,000 people buried here — all of them patriots,” said keynote speaker Maj. Gen. Robert D. LaBrutta, Commander, Second Air Force, Keesler Air Force Base.
LaBrutta said that Americans can expect more casualties from those who enlisted to protect their liberties.
“Freedom is not free,” he said. “We stop and reflect today and we pay tribute because we know our country will call again.”