JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Community leaders and military personnel gathered at Jacksonville's Veterans Memorial Wall on Wednesday to commemorate its 20th anniversary.
Dozens of servicemen and women, including families of fallen soldiers, attended the special ceremony for the black granite memorial that displays the names of more than 1,700 men and women who lost their lives fighting for our country.
The eternal flame burns in front of the wall in perpetual remembrance of the lives lost.
"Not only is it an honor that they put his name on this wall, but it's a place we can come to for solace and reflect," said Dave Seamans, whose son, Timothy, was killed in action when his Army Humvee struck an IED.
Seamans said his son loved helping people.
"He stopped a convoy in Iraq across the street so he can take out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to help feed a hungry Iraqi child. That was my son; that's how caring he was," Seamans said.
Seamans said he's proud Jacksonville has the second largest memorial in the nation representing every branch of service.
Timothy Poole Jr.'s name is etched on the wall after his death in 2010 while serving in the Marines Corps.
"Ever since my son was 3, all he wanted to be was a Marine. He died serving his country. He died his way -- as a Marine," Timothy Poole Sr. said.
While many people gave their condolences, Poole wants them to be thankful.
"Don't be sorry, be thankful because of all these people. We're the USA because of all these people who make the ultimate sacrifice. We're the home of the free because of the brave, and they give us a debt we can never repay," Poole said.
Area high school ROTC members bearing the flags of each military branch were a part of the ceremony. A wreath was also laid in remembrance.
"It's very touching and very upsetting to see a family effected by the loss of their loved one," said John E. Printy, Navy retiree. "We should always remember all of these people. Not today, not tomorrow, but every day."
Mayor Lenny Curry declared Wednesday as Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Day and urged people will visit the wall and pay their respects.