AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) - On Memorial Day Western Massachusetts will join Americans everywhere to honor all who lost their lives fighting for our country.
The weekend observances extend beyond traditional parades and graveside services to the houses of worship where wartime loved ones are remembered.
"My father served in World War I. I served in World War II," said Roger Bernard of Chicopee.
For Western Massachusetts veterans who are now home, Memorial Day is an emotional holiday.
"Men have fought for their freedom, fought and died," said Roger Bernard.
So on Sunday, to honor and remember service men and women who lost their lives, Agawam Congregational Church dedicated their weekly service to veterans.
"It's for us a way to remember what's important, what they've died for, our freedom, life, liberty and pursuit of happiness," said Earl Eisenbach the pastor at Agawam Congregational Church.
"It's not just a holiday. It's not just big car sales. It's not just a big picnic day. It's one day, we as a nation come together to remember those who paid the ultimate price for freedom we enjoy everyday," said Christopher Sanchez the chairman of the Agawam Veterans Council.
And families of veterans get to share their sense of pride and appreciation with the rest of the country.
The Memorial Day weekend isn't the only weekend many families visit their loved ones at the Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
Many people visit once a week, twice a week or whenever they can to say "thank you" for the veterans' ultimate sacrifice.
"It just means a lot to me to be able to come over here and just talk. Think about different things that have gone on," said Barbara Rogers of Southwick.
"People remember, instead of forgetting, and they appreciate what veterans did," said Priscilla Peterson of the Agawam Veterans Council.
Agawam residents prepare for one of the biggest Memorial Day parades in western Massachusetts. The Agawam parade begins at 10 o'clock Monday morning.