ALTOONA (WQOW) - Many veterans say Memorial Day is a time to remember that freedom is not free, and on Monday, area residents were reminded of that during the unveiling of a big project in Altoona.
At the Honor Mall of the Chippewa Valley Veterans Tribute in Altoona, more than 1,000 people gathered to remember our fallen brothers and sisters for Memorial Day.
As part of the holiday weekend, a dedication ceremony was performed for the Chippewa Valley Veterans Tribute and Veteran Legacy Stones.
"This is the first 600 stones that we're dedicating in the field of legacy stones. We have space for approximately 2,500," said Eric Killen, a trustee of the Chippewa Valley Veterans Tribute Foundation.
Killen retired after 31 years in the U.S. Army and Army National Guard. He said this day is about the veterans who cannot be with us.
"Memorial Day is when we're supposed to recognize those veterans who actually laid down their lives for our freedoms," Killen said. "We want to memorialize their service and remember what they did for us."
For Kaye Olson, a life of service runs in the family.
"Between Andy and my husband now John (his stepdad), and me, we have 74 years of military career between the three of us," Olson said.
Olson is not only an Army veteran herself, but also a Gold Star Mother. Her son Andy Stevens was killed in Iraq on December 1, 2005.
"It helps everybody remember our fallen heroes, which makes me feel good. I want everybody to remember our fallen. Not just only us veterans who are here," Olson said.
After a Huey helicopter flyover, raising of the American flag, and speeches from several veterans and city leaders, the ceremony closed with the sounds of taps on trumpet.
After the dedication ceremony, attendees listened to live music at the amphitheater.
Over the next four years, the project will also have a Tribute Trail featuring an eagle monument of Old Abe and statues relating to 11 American wars, starting with the Civil War.