Hundreds gather for Memorial Day service in Florence cemetery - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Hundreds gather for Memorial Day service in Florence cemetery

Memorial Day Service (Source: WMBF News) Memorial Day Service (Source: WMBF News)
Florence National Cemetery (Source: WMBF News) Florence National Cemetery (Source: WMBF News)

FLORENCE, SC  (WMBF) - A large crowd filled the Florence National Cemetery Monday morning to celebrate Memorial Day and honor the men and women who fought for America's freedom. Volunteers, boy scouts, JROTC and community leaders helped prepare by placing 12,000 American flags at each grave site in the cemetery.

Retired Colonel with the U.S. Army Barry Wingard helps put on the ceremony at the Florence Cemetery and is also Chairman of the Veterans Park. He said, “I always really appreciate this many people coming out to recognize those who pay the ultimate sacrifice prior to doing the fun stuff, so it's been a good day. We can all talk about things that the civilian population may not understand and sometimes it’s good to have someone who has walked in your boots before.”

James Macmillan is a WWII Veteran and soldier who fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He said, “It’s been 70 years since my experience and there’s not a whole lot of us left.” Macmillan is 93 years old, is healthy and still going strong. He hasn't missed a single ceremony at the Florence National Cemetery.

When thinking back to his time in battle he said, “We had 650,000 men on each side that was in that battle. It was the biggest battle of World War II of all the world as far as the sacrifice of people were concerned.”

Macmillan served in 1943-1945 and after so many years that have gone by, he said it’s just nice to see people still remembering. “I love to see the people come out and realize, well I think the present war we have and have had these past few years have made them more conscious of the fact that people have made sacrifices over the years," he said.

Stretching to the younger generation that was also in the crowd, Russell Henderson is a senior at The Citadel and he was at the ceremony. He said, “To see all these veterans out here both from World War II, Vietnam, Korea, etc. To see all these men and women who served our country and have given their lives and their family have given their lives, it’s amazing to see we as a country can still stand strong.”

Henderson plans to go into the Air Force after graduating from The Citadel next year. “I always wanted that for myself, I always wanted to be something bigger than myself. I always wanted to serve my country and make my family proud in a different way," said Henderson. He explained that sacrificing his life for the greater good is what gives him the determination.

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