‘The ultimate sacrifice:’ Veterans honored during Memorial Day service in Kennewick

KENNEWICK, Wash. — Hundreds of flags and bouquets of fresh flowers adorn the graves of veterans at Desert Lawn Memorial Park in Kennewick.

It’s a part of the Memorial Day celebrations – a designated holiday to commemorate, remember, and honor those who have passed while serving their country.

Despite the rain and cold weather, on Monday morning, hundreds of Tri-Citians came together at the park for Memorial Day.

A patriotic skydive jump featuring the United States flag kicked off the public event, followed by multiple musical performances, prayers, and speeches from community leaders.

Officials also read off the names of 97 veterans who passed over the last year who are buried at the park as their names will be engraved on the Memorial Roll Call Wall.

Currently, over 3,000 names are currently engraved as a tribute to the fallen heroes.

Art King, the event host, served during the Vietnam era, working at a Thailand airbase coordinating fighter attacks from the Army to the Air Force.

“Well especially on a day like today where it was rainy and wet and kind of cold, it was really heartening to see how many people showed up for this. This is an incredible community. It’s very patriotic and I’m so proud of the people that live here,” King said. “Our freedom was never free. It was paid by their sacrifice.”

Mike Ballard, a captain in the U.S. Army, said Memorial Day is a chance to “never forget.”

“I was an infantry platoon leader and there were moments [where] that’s all you could say to comfort ’em —  you’re going to be alright. I can’t wait to visit ya,” Ballard said. “This is my way of getting to visit with them.”

Officials said days like this are especially important as the holiday shines the light on those lost while honoring their service to the country.

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