Annual Memorial Day remembrance held at Great Lakes National Cemetery

Published: May. 26, 2019 at 4:00 PM EDT
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(05/26/2019) - Hundreds of people came out to the Great Lake National Cemetery Sunday afternoon to pay tribute to those who fought for our country.

It's been a Memorial Day tradition at the cemetery since it first opened in 2005.

“This is a very nice resting place for the guys who gave their all and most of the time we're out here we've got tears in our eyes,” said Nick Duncan, an Air Force veteran from Redford Twp. “It's out of respect and gives them a nice send-off."

Duncan joins his cousin each year to pay tribute to his aunt and uncle.

And each annual visit he brings with him a small token, with a large significance, to place on the headstone – a penny.

“A penny means a veteran visited the site, a nickel means you went through training together, a dime means that you were in combat together and a quarter means you were there when your friend passed,” said Duncan. “That’s the significance of the coins."

Joe Mento, of Ortonville, comes every year to see his mother and father's final resting place and pay tribute to the 33,000 other veterans buried around them.

And to him, Memorial Day is more than just a three day weekend, grilling, or a trip to a lake. It's about those who helped us achieve that type of freedom.

"It's about remembering the great men and women who fought for freedom in our country and every year they are respected by thousands,” said Mento. “No matter what party you're from and what your belief system is this is the greatest country in the world and we have to have people remember that."