(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Southern Colorado community members gathered at Pikes Peak National Cemetery to honor the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting our country.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Pikes Peak National Cemetery hosted a Memorial Day ceremony for Southern Colorado community members. Courtesy: Sean Scott.

One visitor at Pikes Peak National Cemetery was Ember Farley, who was with her family visiting the gravestone of her grandfather. She said she met him when she was little, as a baby. On Memorial Day, she wants him to know that she loves him very much.

Carolyn Kalaskie was also in attendance at the ceremony, and she reflected on her father’s time serving our country and how she too spent time in the United States Air Force.

“Well, it touches my heart to see all of this support with five military installations in this area alone,” said Kalaskie. “And my father was a World War II and Korean veteran… I love the fact that here they give honor to those who gave their lives and who were wounded, the wounded soldiers, they talk about the awards that they were given.”

Those in the crowd ranged in age with many families paying their respects for our fallen heroes.

Community members visited the gravestones to pay their respects on Memorial Day. Courtesy: Maggy Wolanske.

“I think it’s important for us to carry on traditions, who’s coming up after us, but our young ones,” said Kalaskie. “We need to teach them to honor our military dead because it’s because of their sacrifice that they have the life that they live today. America is one of the greatest nations, if not the greatest nation on earth. We have our problems, but you can’t beat our freedom.”

Pennies lied on the top of one of the gravestones at Pikes Peak National Cemetary. Courtesy: Maggy Wolanske.

The Damron family has their own unique tradition on Memorial Day. For the past four years, they have placed pennies on gravestones at the cemetery.

“It’s very humbling. It’s very surreal to see it grown,” said Teresa Damron. “I mean it’s amazing, at the same time, because this is a sight to see, but it’s also kind of it’s sad to know that every single one of these graves is somebody that fought for our freedom… that we have in the United States of America.”

On the top of gravestones, coins were placed as a way of remembering the fallen hero. Courtesy: Maggy Wolanske.

Damron was joined by her three children and husband who together gave their thanks, by placing a penny on each gravestone.

“So we just take the first five rows and then we work on the next five rows,” said Damron. “And when we get done here, we’ll move over to there… last year we didn’t bring enough pennies, unfortunately. And so, this year we made sure that we had more than enough. But we try every year to hit every single grave.”

Earlier Monday morning, the Damron family sorted out the pennies – $75 dollars worth. As they gathered together at the cemetery, Damron shared her hope with her children, that the time they spend together will be something that will live on in their families.

“But the memories that are created here with you and with me hopefully will live on in generations to come,” said Damron.