'Reflect on the high cost of freedom': Milwaukee VA hosts Memorial Day ceremony at Wood National Cemetery

NOW: ’Reflect on the high cost of freedom’: Milwaukee VA hosts Memorial Day ceremony at Wood National Cemetery

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – A Memorial Day tradition returned to Milwaukee Monday, remembering fallen veterans through music, words, and acts of honor.

The Milwaukee VA hosted the 94th Memorial Day Ceremony, honoring those buried at Wood National Cemetery and across the country.

"Today we all come together to pay our respects and to reflect on the high cost of freedom," said Kimberly Jackson, the VA chief of staff and event keynote speaker.

It was a breezy and solemn gathering, paying tribute to lives lost.

"Memorial Day is more than about just having a day off, it really is a connection with our past and to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country," said James McLain, executive director of the Zablocki VA Health Care System.

Hundreds visited Wood National Cemetery to take part in the ceremony.

"It's veterans, family members, people from the community. We had a tremendous amount of honored dignitaries today," McLain said.

Congressman Tom Tiffany, Senator Tammy Baldwin, and Congresswoman Gwen Moore were some of the several speakers that honored fallen veterans.

"Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it, it flies with the last breath of each soldier who died defending it," Congresswoman Moore quoted.

Veterans and active duty members paid respects by laying wreaths and holding a balloon release for POW-MIA.

"We have the freedoms that we enjoy today as a result of what veterans have done," said attendee Jim Pelkey, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

The ceremony at Wood National Cemetery is a cherished tradition, recognizing the significance of the holiday - with a salute.

"We can never underestimate, we can never overappreciate the costs that they bore for us," Jackson said.

More than 40,000 veterans rest at Wood National Cemetery.

McLain said the Memorial Day ceremony will be held here again next year.

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