WJTV News Channel 12 - Hundreds honor vets at Bay Pines National Cemetery

Hundreds honor vets at Bay Pines National Cemetery

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PINELLAS COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

A breeze welcomed the hundreds of people who gathered under the oak trees at Bay Pines National Cemetery for its annual Memorial Day Ceremony.

More than 30,000 veterans and their spouses are buried at the 21 acre site next to the Bay Pines VA Hospital in Pinellas County.

It's an emotional day for many who have served, or lost loved ones. Nathaniel Demps, a Vietnam veteran, came to pay his respects."A lot of my friends that went into the service with me didn't make it back. And I thank God for bringing me and my two brothers back," said Demps.

The program included many tributes and solemn moments. The Timber Creek High School JROTC executed a dramatic Battle Cross Presentation. They also brought many to tears during a symbolic display for POW's and MIA's.

Kerrie Witty, VA Regional Office Director, thanked military families for their loss and sacrifice," We owe you and your loved ones our heartfelt gratitude and more," said Witty.

Congressman Bill Young, (R) Florida, urged veterans to videotape their experiences so that they could be preserved in the Library of Congress. "Everyone has a different story to tell. The sacrifices are great, and even the families of those who served don't know the sacrifices, and what the frightening experiences were. It's appropriate that we remember that and pay tribute and honor those who went to war," said Young.

The Memorial day event hit home for 7th grader Gianna Annunziata, who attended with her grandmother to visit her great grandfather's grave. " I think it's great so many people fight for us and I think we should have more than one day a year to celebrate it," said Annunziata.

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