No matter the branch of military, no matter the rank, no matter the war fought — all differences were set aside as hundreds of friends and family members gathered Monday morning at Camp Nelson National Cemetery for Memorial Day services.
"Never forget or take freedom for granted," Preston A. Horn Jr. said as he laid flowers down on his uncle's grave. "It's a high price to pay for that freedom."
Horn was there with his father, Preston Horn Sr. who was straightening the flag and saluting not only his brother in arms, but his blood brother — George Horn Jr.
All three Horn men served in the Marine Corps but only they are left to carry on his memory.
For the morning ceremonies, approximately 1,000 people came out pay tribute to all American soldiers who have fallen in battle — 14,000 of whom are laid to rest at the cemetery. Thousands more were expected to have paid their respects by the end of the holiday weekend.
For some the loss of a soldier was a very close relative, like the Horns.
"(Today) is about the importance of patriotism,” Debra Stinnett, of Lancaster, said. "I think our kids have lost that and it really needs to be addressed."
With two of her sons, Debra Stinnett was visiting her husband's grave, Steven Miller Stinnett, who served in the Army and just recently passed away in 2011.
For others who came out Monday morning the idea of loss was as foreign as the wars they fought.
Jack Delong, 9, of Lexington was brought out by his father Jason.
Though no one in the DeLong family had died serving in the military, Jason DeLong said it was important for his family to know and understand the sacrifices others had made for America.
Presiding over the morning service was Llyod McMillian, chairman of the Central Kentucky's veterans Committee, who hosted as the masters of ceremonies. There was also the patriotic musical presence of the West Jessamine High School band and two vocal numbers performed by minister Douglas Diggle of Lexington.
During the course of the service the Nicholasville Police Department had the honor of retiring the colors and the Kentucky Patriot Guard Riders placed the wreath under the flag which waved at half mast in the wind.
The main speaker of the afternoon was retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Anthony G. Dotson who came in dress uniform and engaged the crowd like he would his soldiers, then with a few jokes and finally a solemn, dignified reproach.
"It's a great day to be an American," Dotson said. "America exists today because of the sacrifices of countless men and woman who gave all in the name of their county. And lets not forget the sacrifice of the families that stood with them, supporting them all the way."
Dotson finished with something he told the mother of a son who died in battle. He was assigned to deliver to her the flag, a duty he said he hopes to never have to do again but would willingly do if called upon.
"On behalf of a grateful nation, a token of appreciation for your loved one's honorable and faithful service," he said. “God bless you, and God bless this great county.