ELMIRA, NY (WENY) –- Over a thousand people lined the streets of Elmira for the annual Memorial Day parade. Once the parade route ended at Woodlawn National Cemetery, a service was held to honor those who served, but never made it back home.

"We gather this Memorial Day as solemnly united in remembrance of the fallen defenders of our great nation," said Navy Veteran, Stacy McKay.


Heroism is defined as great bravery. Dozens of people attended the service at Woodlawn National Cemetery in Elmira to pay their respects.

"We all know that freedom is not free. It comes with a great cost that's paid by the loss of sons, daughters, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, friends, and comrades. To all the families of our fallen patriots, we lack the words to describe how you feel on Memorial Day because try as we may, as we must, we can never fully know. However, we do know [what] sacrifice means to us," said McKay.


Memorial Day is a day to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, not for barbecues.

"You can't forget history because that's who we are today and that's what we've got to be. We can't forget them. We've got to remember them and keep their memories alive... Just like those guys in my platoon [who] didn't make it back. So I make sure they live on. I've been bringing my wife and children out ever since they were big enough to walk. it's just become a part of what we do every Memorial Day," said Vietnam Veteran, Dale McKay.

Dale served in Vietnam from June 1967 to June 1968. He said he was one of the lucky ones because unlike so many, he got to come home.

"Today is a day I never let pass. When you look around, you see all those who didn't make it and it's just a feeling you can't explain. It's like when I went to the Vietnam Wall for the first time and I didn't know what to expect. Then I got there and saw all those names, and I was overwhelmed with a flood of memories," said Dale.