ST. LOUIS — Thousands of flags waved at Jefferson Barracks on Memorial Day as thousands of loved ones paid their respects to the men and women who sacrificed it all.
In one of the older parts of the cemetery, organizers from the U.S. Grant Camp 68 took it back to the beginning, demonstrating what a ceremony in the early days of Memorial Day would look like.
For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, a group of people honored the Civil War Union veterans.
Don Palmer was the keynote speaker and the past commander in chief of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.
"Memorial Day was established in 1868 and what we try to do here is carry on the tradition that was started established by the Grand Army,” he said.
Buried in this section are Union soldiers from all over.
"Jefferson Barracks, the post here at the time was a military hospital. Soldiers wounded in battlefields around were brought here for treatment and many died and were buried here. There are 12,000 Union soldiers buried here," Palmer said.
Many of the tombstones are unknown.
"Even though their tombstone says unknown, they all have lives, they had families, they all had futures and it ended," Palmer said. "We want to make sure that history is remembered because often times as time passes, the earlier contributors to our American history tend to be forgotten and we don't want that forgotten."
Honoring those soldiers are Karen and Ann Bergman.
COVID limited their time during the pandemic, but they wanted to share their gratitude this holiday.
For Ann, it's been a custom to pay respect.
"We used to come with my parents. Memorial Day was a solemn day, very solemn," Ann shares.
Her family is connected with many veterans.
"It was pretty hard not to be connected with someone in the second World War. I come from the Korean War, we had friends and boyfriends that didn't come back,” she said.
The Bergman's hold on to tradition, going back to the roots of the holiday.
"I think it's important to remember all the people that died and too many forget about them and we just celebrate the day and we forget what it means," Karen said.