Thousands honor fallen men, women during Arizona Memorial Day ceremony

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Thousands gathered at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona Monday morning to honor our fallen men and women, those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the way of life and its freedoms that we enjoy every day.

Kicking off with a fly-over in which the pilots performed a traditional missing man formation, the event continues to be one of the largest Memorial Day celebrations in the state.

3TV's Ryan O'Donnell was there.

For many, the ceremony National Memorial Cemetery is part of their own Memorial Day traditions.

Pam Hellestrae takes her kids every year.

"My father-in-law is buried here. He passed away about 14 years ago," she told O'Donnell. "It's important that they come out and understand the people who made sacrifices for our country, be part of the whole patriotic spirit and understand what the day is really about."

National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona is open daily, sunrise to sunset.

Originally known as Decoration Day, this federal holiday was established after the American Civil War. It was first meant to remember the more than 360,000 Union soldiers killed during the Civil War, but later expanded to include all Americans killed in all wars.