TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — Memorial Day honors those who gave everything for their country, which is what community members and veterans gathered to do Monday morning at Tuscaloosa’s Veterans Memorial Park.
Among the veterans of various wars, ranks and honors who came to pay their respects to the fallen was Navy veteran Ralph Lunsford, 95, who said this ceremony holds a special place in his heart.
“I look forward to this every year,” Lunsford – who served in Okinawa during World War II – said in an interview with CBS 42. “I can’t explain it. It’s just an atmosphere that I want to be here. Like others that want to come and represent my country.”
Lunsford attributes his time serving to how grateful he is for other Americans: “We need to gather our country to fight together, to work together, something that would unite the country more so.”
Many civilians came to the event and paid their respects to veterans and their families personally, shaking their hands and displaying gratitude.
CBS 42: How does it feel to have others come appreciate you and shake your hand?
Lunsford: I feel like I ought to be shaking their hand because if it wasn’t for them, we couldn’t have done what we did.
The Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center was also in attendance, offering COVID-19 vaccines and other information related to veteran health. John Merkel, Director at the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center, says while they didn’t vaccinate many on site today, they’re increasingly seeing more veterans come in for a vaccination.
Veterans and their caretakers can go to the Tuscaloosa VA medical center for a walk-in vaccine every weekday morning from 8 a.m. – 11 a.m.