Memorial Day of remembrance, honor, and education at Tahoma National Cemetery

KENT, Wash. -- Memorial Day is a time to pause and honor those who gave their lives defending our country and our freedoms.

Today, thousands headed to Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent to reflect and remember.

Hundreds of those attended a special ceremony at the main flag pole.  Many veterans  showed up in their military uniforms, others came carrying an American flag.

It was a service filled with patriotism, pride, honor and respect. One by one, Gold Star Families, those who lost a loved one during their service to our country, shared their stories.

That included Connie Klein of University Place, near Tacoma. Klein's father Conrad Sprague died in a plane crash during the Korean War. He was just  23 years old.

"My message is be so thankful for the military," Klein said. "Be thankful for all of the goodness they give everybody."

Throughout the day, between the rows of headstones and American flags, there were hundreds of children. Their parents felt a sense of duty to educate them about this important day.

Trisha Gray from Bonney Lake and her husband brought their 4-year-old daughter Evalynn to the cemetery. Gray's grandparents are buried at Tahoma. Her grandfather fought in World War II. He’s one of 60,000 service members and their families buried at the cemetery.

Gray said, “It’s important for her [her daughter] to know why we have the day off from school. And she may not understand it yet, but I know one day she will.”

Kevin Dieterich and his wife Claire both served in Afghanistan in the U.S. Army. They came with their three young kids ages 4 years, 2 years, and 7 months.  Armed with a handful of carnations, they paid their respects and passed down the lessons of service.

“We were both in Afghanistan," said Claire Dieterich. "We were lucky to come home and there were people who were not as lucky as we were.”

“It’s the history lesson you can't learn in the book right?" Kevin Dieterich said about his kids. "It’s something they can take with them and pass on to their kids one day.”

Families committed to making sure future generations will never forget the fallen.

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