Members of the Cass High School JROTC were on hand to present the American flag, which was followed by an invocation. First Sgt. James Hornback, the Army instructor at Cass High, spoke to the crowd.
"I graduated from the Army and all I saw on T.V. growing up in high school, '68 to '72, was the Vietnam War ... and I was always in awe of what the Vietnam veteran was doing," Hornback said.
He continued, contrasting the return of Vietnam veterans to the United States with the experiences of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.
"The good things about these kids now is that they're appreciated more than you," Hornback said. "But in my heart of hearts I always appreciated what the Vietnam veteran did. If I could've wished one thing -- and it's probably a bad thought -- I wish I would have been able to serve my country in Vietnam."
After Honback's speech, visitors lined up to light their candles and place them in the holder at the base of the memorial. While a strong wind often snuffed the flames out, organizers were able to re-light the candles once they were placed. Veterans then saluted the flag while taps was played.
A folded American flag and soldier's cross stood next to the candle base. Paul DeWitte, a veteran of Granada, brings the flag and soldier's cross to Memorial Day events, such as the American Legion's ceremony, and soldiers' funerals. He became involved in Memorial Day because he sees it as an important day of remembrance.
"When we forget the dead, we forget the reason why our country's actually here," DeWitte said.