PRESTON, Minn. - Many have Monday off as part of Memorial Day weekend. For some, the holiday weekend is more than just having an extra day off from work or school. It's about remembering those who served our country, and paying tribute to their families who mourn their losses.
People gathered at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery on Sunday to honor and remember those who sacrificed their lives for our country.
"We hear the word hero every day," Dave Swensen said, "but it's these soldiers who are the true heroes because they are willing to give their lives for something bigger than themselves."
Dave and Kay Swensen are no strangers to the sacrifice. Their son, Curtis, was killed in action in April of 2010 in Afghanistan.
"No family should be asked what's been asked of you," Rep. Tim Walz said, "and no family holds greater place of honor in this nation, than Gold Star families."
The cemetery is raising an "Honor and Remember flag" for the first time this Memorial Day weekend, to pay tribute to those who lost their lives and their families.
It's a holiday weekend to show gratitude to those that are gone, like Joanne Ward's husband James.
"My husband didn't view himself as any kind of a hero," Ward said. "He just signed up for the Navy because his older brothers had both served."
James Ward now lays to rest next to other soldiers and heroes.
"And it was simply, he felt it was something he should do," Joanne Ward said. "And so, seeing this beauty that he gets to be a part of, I'm very grateful."
The ceremony also served as a call to action to take care of veterans who come home from war.
For a full list of Memorial Day services in our viewing area, click here.