CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Memorial Day honors America’s military men and women who lost their lives in service to their country.

Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May. Many people attend parades, go on trips or have cook-outs with friends and family. But at its heart, Memorial Day is a day when Americans reflect on the sacrifice of those who have given their lives in military service.

“It’s one of those things that you go out there and it makes you feel so good when they have all the flags all panted up and down the rows. And it’s just a nice thing to see that they do all this for the veterans and they do all the things that help out the community,” remarked Rick King.

Memorial Day began as a way to honor soldiers who died in the Civil War, but the day now honors all U.S. veterans who have sacrificed their lives. Other people observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades.

Rick King’s father passed away a few years ago. He was a decorated veteran. His son still recalls the way his community commemorated and recognized his father’s military service.

“A soldier came out and he stood there on the ground with a flag in his hands because he knew my father was a veteran. And you never see that kind of treatment. It’s always nice to see people step up. They move forward and they honor those veterans,” said King.

Many people say that freedom isn’t free. It was fought for and earned by the many brave men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Rosa Costa believes that holidays like these are important to the community.

“I also have two nephews that they went into the service. They were there for 4 years, so it’s with a lot of respect for all the veterans and all they do for us,” said Costa.