Seven members of American Legion Post 52 Military honors platoon raised their rifles and fired three shots, cutting through the air at Oak Grove Cemetery Monday morning.
For those men, Memorial Day comes more than just once a year.
"We render military honors at veterans' funerals. Last year, we did 80 funerals ...and gave ceremonies for veterans who passed away," said Neil Duresky, a 21-year veteran.
Duresky's role in the ceremony is ever-changing.
“I generally fire a rifle, sometimes play the bugle, sometimes present the colors," he said.
But how he feels stays the same.
“There's a great deal of pride associated with that. The folks who serve on the military honors platoon with me are all proud of what they do for fallen veterans ...and for their country. They all went through their time in the military and spent time away from family and friends to ensure we enjoy the freedoms we have,” said Duresky.
Even though he sometimes worries about firing at the right time during the ceremonies, the faces of his fallen fellow service members are always in his mind.
“My wife's cousin comes to mind each time I attend a Memorial Day service. He was in the Army in Vietnam and died taking ammunition for his fellow soldiers," he said. "The military has always been there to preserve our freedoms, to ensure that we have a democracy, to ensure that people can vote, that they can pray without any worry about a tyrant saying you can't."
He hopes people remember Memorial Day is more than just a day off work.
"This day is given because of those who gave,” said Duresky. “We pay the price in human lives to keep our country free.”
A little trivia about the three-volley salute the platoon performed this morning at Oak Grove Cemetery: The practice actually stems from an old custom of halting the fighting so each side could remove their dead from the battlefield. According to Arlington National Cemetery, once each army had recovered its fallen soldiers, it would fire three volleys to indicate they were ready to go back and fight.