HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - Folks across the nation and here in the mountains took time today to observe Memorial Day. The holiday has its origins in the aftermath of the Civil War and was established to commemorate fallen Union and Confederate soldiers.
Today it is celebrated the last Monday in May, and for veterans we talked to, the day holds special meaning.
Folks at the Eastern Kentucky Veterans Center in Hazard marked the occasion with cake and punch, and a montage of fallen comrades.
"It's just a very special day," said Neil Napier, the center's administrator. "You know a lot of our residents that we do have have spent time during wartime, and the remembrance of those friends that paid the ultimate sacrifice."
Earlier in the day, the Disabled American Veterans organization planted a wreath in honor of those who gave that last full measure of devotion.
For many at the Eastern Kentucky Veterans Center, Memorial Day is a time spent reflecting on prior service and remembering friends who have come and gone.
"There's a couple of them that I know that came back pretty bad off," said veteran Linda Dooley. "They weren't wounded in any way, but they were mentally affected by it."
Robert Madon served in the Air Force during the Korean War. His uncle Harry Clinton Bush, was killed while serving as a Navy pilot in World War Two.
"They strafed him; the Japanese strafed him and killed him," he said. "That really got to me because he was the youngest one in the family."
These veterans soldier on. All they ask is that we remember their sacrifice...
"Go out and hug a vet, and tell them how proud you are of them," Dooley said.
...and honor the memory of those who paid the ultimate price.
The Eastern Kentucky Veterans Center is a 120 bed long-term care facility that offers nursing care and a variety of activities for Kentucky veterans seven days a week.