The bright sun and warm temperatures this Memorial Day reminded everyone at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Highland Park that summer is right around the corner.
But that’s the problem, said veteran Ken Moore. That the meaning of Memorial Day is sometimes buried under barbeques and beach time.
"It’s hard to talk about, because I think about the friends I lost in Vietnam and all the others that went before and after me. Kids are dying today. I just wish people would really understand the meaning of this day. I get sick of people saying Happy Memorial Day it’s not a happy day."
Moore said it was disheartening that on his drive from Hilton to Rochester for the downtown parade, he only saw 2 houses other than his own with flags at half-staff.
But that makes spaces like the memorial in Highland Park more essential he said, giving all veterans a place to gather.
"It means an awful lot, because it’s a place we come together and reflect, knowing that the guys that are with us and the gals, they really understand. So it means an awful lot. To us this is sacred ground."
Greece resident and veteran Dave Kolchuk says he comes to as many of these events as he can, to also connect with people who grasp his experience.
"Fellowship, brotherhood, guys who understand. People you can talk to. Most people you can’t, these people I can. They understand and we all got that bond, you got my back and I’ll watch yours."
His friend and fellow veteran Matthew White agreed, saying it’s important to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice
"I was able to come home and there were many that didn’t. Those that gave their lives in protection of our freedoms, I like to pay homage to them."
As part of the ceremony, volunteers read the names of nearly 300 local soldiers lost in the Vietnam War.
Video of the event by Jason Milton: