JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It is one of the enduring images of military sacrifice. Those who lost their life in sacrifice to our country, are remembered and honored on Memorial Day. In this week's Stories of Service we take a closer look at Jacksonville's Veterans Memorial Wall.
It stands as a proud and solemn reminder of service.
"I think it talks about what Jacksonville is, the fabric of our community and what it means," said Harrison Conyers, supervisor of Military Affairs and Veterans Department for the city of Jacksonville.
Conyers knows how special the Veterans Memorial Wall is to the citizens of Jacksonville.
"This is the backdrop for Memorial Day," said Conyers. "But, there are people who come to this wall almost every day of the year and run their hands over those names and they look at the high schools and think about the sacrifice those freedoms stand on."
It's jarring to see names of the fallen listed under high schools. More than 1,700 names are on the wall, and some are even Medal of Honor recipients. All are honored for giving the ultimate sacrifice for our country during Jacksonville's Memorial Day ceremony. The Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Wall is the second largest granite memorial wall in the country next to the Vietnam War monument in Washington D.C. The city of Jacksonville's Memorial Day ceremony is also the largest Memorial Day ceremony in the nation outside of Washington D.C.
"It's quite a ceremony but it's a ceremony because of the people we're honoring and the gold star families we're recognizing and grieving with," said Conyers. "I've been doing this event since 2005 and I've gotten to know these families as we've added names and heard their stories, that's what it means to me, to understand them."
Many people will visit the Veterans Memorial Wall on Memorial Day, but the wall stands proud every day of the year, waiting for people to come read the names of brave men and women.
"Sometimes they're visiting their dad's name or their mom's name or a son or a daughter," said Conyers. "And sometimes it's people who have no affiliation whatsoever, they're just patriotic Americans."
No new names were added to the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Wall this year, but the city will still honor Gold Star families during its Memorial Day ceremony.
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