Fallen military members honored at National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - It was beautiful weather at the National Memorial Cemetery in Phoenix on Monday. A special Memorial Day service was held in the morning. There was a flyover, color guard, live military band and a wreath ceremony.
Several veterans came out to the cemetery at Cave Creek Road and Pinnacle Peak Road to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. “I lost three guys from my riverboat. So I’m honored to be able to remember them with the people that are here. Bill and Larry were 21, and Mike was 20 years old when they were killed in that boat. I want people to know that our freedom and our children and our grandchildren and especially our people are worth dying for. And that’s why freedom is so expensive,” said Mark del Maestrl, a Vietnam U.S. Navy veteran.
A field cross was placed in front of the presentational stage. It was created to honor those lost in World War I. Del Maestrl explained what the common symbol meant. “During World War I they found a bound on the battlefield they would take the rifle and would stand it in the ground so when it came time to recover those bodies they would not miss that one. Then it became part of the ceremony to put the helmet on top, the dog tags are hanging from the handle,” he said.
Below the helmet and rifle are the boots, worn in combat by the servicemember and the flag they gave their lives for. More than 81,500 American troops gave their lives without a proper burial.
“The trilogy of freedom is our families, our country, and our God,” del Maestrl said. “Every decision that we make, if they’re not on that page, we’re going to be divided.” One man said he covered the war as a journalist. He said he brought his two daughters to pass on the knowledge that freedom isn’t free. “Serving your country can’t be any greater honor and you have to remember those who went before us and those who said, ‘I’ll put my life on the line for all of you.’ People that special need to be remembered,” he added.
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