JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville National Cemetery held a Memorial Day observance ceremony Saturday morning.
It was the first time the event has been open to the public in two years because of COVID. The ceremony honored and commemorated fallen military members and their families, including Gold Star families, like Melina Buncome's.
Buncome's daughter, a sergeant in the Marine Corps, died from breast cancer in 2019. She's buried at Jacksonville National Cemetery.
"It’s very emotional just thinking about their service," she said.
"I mean, when you think about every day that a soldier, they get up and they know that they’re serving their country and at any given point they might not return and knowing that love that they have for their country and for family that is, it takes it to a whole new level."
"Thank you for the service for each and every person who has ever served, every veteran knowing that you loved this country enough to do whatever it takes and continue to do that. When we see that there are so many different veteran organizations that are reaching out to the community, it makes my heart glide," she said.
Colonel David Abramowitz was the keynote speaker at the ceremony. He served in the Army for 31 years. Currently, he's the senior mentor coordinator for the Veterans Treatment Court.
“I actually believe military-wise this is the most important ceremony we come to, and I believe sometimes society forgets that on Memorial Day, we’re here to serve and protect our country," he said. "We train for this and we go overseas. For me, I was in the Army for 31 years and 13 years out of my 31 years I was gone from my family," Abramowitz said.
"This day, Memorial Day, when you lose your fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, it takes a piece of you, almost like losing a part of your family when you lose somebody," he said.