Hundreds of East Valley residents gathered at several spots Monday to honor those who have given their lives in military service.
Cars lined the small streets cutting through Mesa City Cemetery as about 200 people attended its Memorial Day service.
New flowers and flags that dotted the grounds blew in the breeze while Kristine Marler, commander of American Legion Post 26, conducted the service.
"Today we pay tribute to fallen soldiers of past and current wars," Marler said. "We may forget, but freedom is not free. It is because of them that our nation lives."
The 30-minute service included poems and a 21-gun salute.
Mesa resident Luana Sheldon said she hadn’t been to a Memorial Day service before but thought it was time her 6-year-old son attended one. "I just felt compelled to be here," Sheldon said. "I want him to see it and be a part of it."
For Korean War veteran Duane Loveland, the service was something he has been to almost every year for the past 39 years.
"The service today was very respectful and it was an honor to be a part of it," Loveland said. "It is special to see the honor that people show for those that gave their lives to defend our freedom."
Around the East Valley, other sites for services included Chandler’s Valley of the Sun Memorial Park, Gilbert’s historical museum and Scottsdale’s Camelback Cemetery.
Marler said this was the first year she has made it through a Memorial Day service without reaching for the tissue box. She served in the military from the Vietnam War to the Persian Gulf War. She has also lost three fiances who were killed in battle.
"The rest of the day for me will be quiet and I will do my own reflections," Marler said. "I will think about the people I have known and about my friends that are serving in Iraq."