“Freedom isn’t free:” VA holds annual Memorial Day ceremony at Wood National Cemetery

MILWAUKEE -- The annual Milwaukee Veterans Affairs Memorial Day ceremony was held at Wood National Cemetery on Monday morning, May 29th.

Guest speakers included U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Rep. Gwen Moore and Gov. Scott Walker.

Prior to the ceremony, Gov. Walker released the following statement in honor of Memorial Day:

"Many of us think of Memorial Day as the official beginning of summer. And while the long weekend is a great chance for us to spend the day with friends and loved ones in the great Wisconsin outdoors, it’s important we remember the true meaning of this holiday. The brave men and women who serve in the United States Armed Forces make the selfless decision every day to stand up for our nation’s ideals and protect our freedoms. Every day, but especially today, we remember those who paid the ultimate price for that freedom with their lives. We hold these American heroes in our hearts. We keep them, and their loved ones, in our thoughts and prayers."

Memorial Day ceremony at Wood National Cemetery

Memorial Day ceremony at Wood National Cemetery

During the ceremony, leaders and veterans stressed the true meaning of Memorial Day -- a day meant for somber remembrance.

"It's not about partying. It's about being at places like this, honoring those who gave them the right to party," Frank Fitch III, Vietnam veteran said.

"Understanding, appreciation of freedom. Freedom is not free and sometimes we forget that," Frank Chaparas, Vietnam veteran said.

"We live in the home of the free, because of the brave," Governor Scott Walker said.

Memorial Day ceremony at Wood National Cemetery

Memorial Day ceremony at Wood National Cemetery

Veterans said this annual ceremony is a great way to celebrate Memorial Day and honor the sacrifice of those who have died while serving our country. Some said they hope non-veterans will continue the celebration by thanking those who have served.

"Oh it means everything. It's what Memorial Day is about. It's being out here at the VA, honoring those who didn't make it back, and I have plenty of comrades who didn't," Finch said.