Veterans' families share stories of loved ones

Posted: Updated:

They waved flags, held parades and just said "thank you."

Memorial Day was a chance for folks across Arizona and around the country to honor the men and women who risk their lives to protect America's freedom.

Hundreds of people were out at the National Cemetery of Arizona Monday to pay their respects to U.S. servicemen and women.

Every American flag marked the spot of someone who served their country.

Waite Blake of Phoenix was one of them.

He fought in the Korean War as an Airman 3rd class in the U.S. Navy.

Blake later got married and had five children and 11 grandchildren.

His wife and family came out Monday to pay tribute to a man who devoted his life to helping others.

"We're always close to him, but we feel like this is just a special way to honor him and all the vets," said daughter Vicki Helton. "It's important to come out here."

Blake was a former Maricopa County Sheriff's Deputy, then became one of the first paramedics for Arizona's Department of Public Safety.

He passed away in 2006 at the age of 74.

"He just loved doing things for people," said Jonella Blake, the veteran's wife. "He loved his country. He loved his family. He was a good man. He was a true American."

A few feet away, Deborah Thomas of Litchfield Park was visiting her father, who served in Vietnam and Korea.

She was pleased to see so many families doing the same thing.

"I come out here even when there's no fanfare, just to let him know I'm glad you were part of serving our country and I'm going to honor you every day," said Thomas. "I think it's a blessing for us to have people to devote their lives to keep our country free."

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.