Memorial Day at Fresno Memorial Gardens

May 25, 2009 6:06:39 PM PDT
Memorial Day is a day to remember those men and women who have lost their lives serving this country. Families and friends have their own memories of loved ones, but fellow soldiers left behind have a special bond with their fallen comrades. Valley soldiers showed up at the Fresno Memorial Gardens to pay tribute to those comrades. Since 1963 Fresno Memorial Gardens has honored central valley veterans with flags erected around the cemetery. There were just 35 flags representing 35 veterans back then. Today there are more than 1400 - each representing a life lost serving this country.

Army Specialist Blake Brown says, "This day is not about us. This day is about these flags behind me... the sons and daughters of America."

This is Blake Brown's first Memorial Day service. He never felt compelled to attend before but since serving in Somalia and the horn of Africa AND experiencing the pain of loss, he vows he'll never miss another remembrance.

Cruz Cuellar earned a purple heart in Vietnam forty years ago. Every May before Memorial Day even rolls around, he remembers two friends he lost in a firefight in the jungle.

As he lay on the ground wounded, one of his buddies clung to life.

Cuellar remembers the day vividly. He says, "Jerry Wages was right next to me. He couldn't breathe so they had to do a tracheotomy on him so they could put a tube in so he could breathe. Eventually he wound up dying."

Cuellar later learned his sergeant had also been mortally wounded.

Brian Burry was a special forces medic in Vietnam. He tried to save the lives of hundreds of soldiers while he was there. He doesn't remember them all, but there are those who are still close to his heart that he will never forget.

Burry says, "You could get short intense friends in combat. Maybe you guys had worked together two months - patrols, air assaults, whatever. And we try to save you and you pass. Now that's hard to take. Maybe you only knew that person eight to ten weeks. "

While family and friends remember loved ones who fought for freedom. The veterans left behind have a special bond with those who have died. And the memories are just as vivid today as they were on the battlefield.

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