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‘Respect the soldiers:’ Hundreds turn out for Memorial Day ceremony in Union Grove

UNION GROVE -- In observance of Memorial Day, hundreds of veterans and their loved ones spent Sunday afternoon, May 27 where fallen soldiers have come to rest.

Memorial Day ceremony at Southern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Union Grove

"I thank God that there's so many people in the world that still respect this country, love this nation, and respect the soldiers and honor the soldiers," said David Litrenta, U.S. Army First Sergeant.

All five branches of the military were represented on Sunday at the Southern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Union Grove. There, a ceremony was held to honor service members who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

"Being with other veterans... It's like family, it's like coming home," said Stewart Nagao, a U.S. Navy veteran.

"Being in the military that many years... I was lucky. Some were, some weren't," said Tom Cobb, a U.S. Air Force veteran.

A POW-MIA table left room for missing soldiers.

"Salt represents tears on the table -- the bittersweet tears that families still have to bring back their fallen soldiers," Litrenta said.

A battlefield cross ceremony -- for brothers in arms who did not make it home.

Memorial Day ceremony at Southern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Union Grove

"To demonstrate to the folks what goes on in our hearts on the field," Nagao said.

It matches the statue that overlooks the entrance to the cemetery. At the base of the display, a pair of boots -- never to touch the ground again. A helmet, an American flag, and a dog tag also drape the memorial.

"But these dog tags are not marked. It represents all the fallen," Nagao said.

Although the colors were retired to mark the ceremony's end, the memory of our nation's fallen service members will not be forgotten.

Memorial Day ceremony at Southern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Union Grove

Memorial Day ceremony at Southern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Union Grove

The Southern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery remains the fifth busiest state veterans cemetery in the United States.