JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Americans didn’t let a pandemic keep them honored our nation’s fallen heroes. Among the places people paid their respects locally was the Jacksonville National Cemetery.
“It’s in everybody’s heart, it’s no different, you just do it a different way,” explained Michael Smith, a member of the support committee at Jacksonville National Cemetery.
Smith is also the Jacksonville location coordinator for Wreaths Across America.
The family of Corp. Daniel Logan, who passed away in 2017 due to the invisible wounds of war, were among those who visited the cemetery Monday. They placed 300 flags on headstones.
Usually the community comes together to place flags on every marker, but this year the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs did not provide flags because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Families came out and did what they had to. It doesn’t change. It still has the same meaning, it’s just done a different way," said Smith, who was honoring Staff Sgt. Jason Dahlke, who was killed by enemy fire in Afghanistan in 2009.
At just 29-years-old, Dahlke is the first KIA to be buried when Jacksonville National Cemetery opened that same year.
“There’s things in life that change your life, and this man right here, what he did for our nation, changed my life,” Smith said.
“I come for all veterans," said one veteran who served in the Army from 1961-1976. “If I had to do it all again, I would do it all over.”
The veteran said he was there to visit his wife who served in World War II.
“I know it won’t be long for myself," the veteran said.