Hundreds gathered in downtown Eaton Rapids on Monday to honor those in our military -- both past and present. But on this Memorial Day the primary focus was on the more than 160 Michigan men and women who've died while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.
"A town like Eaton Rapids who understands what it's like to lose a favorite son, to honor all of the families of those who have been through the same pain, it's a tremendous honor."
Michael Kilpela is from Fowlerville. His son Lance Corporal Andrew Kilpela died in Iraq in 2005. He was 22 years old.
"To me it's an honor that he has served and has done what he wanted to do."
Along with the parade and memorial service was the wall of freedom. It displayed the names of those who've passed away in the war on terror.
"It got a little bigger this year. It hit a little closer to home because Lance Corporal Troy Nealy, a hometown boy, was killed in Iraq," says Eaton Rapids Mayor Jamie Davidson.
"I know he's here with us, and that he's looking down and enjoying all the attention. Because he was a showman. He liked to get attention."
Annette Nealey is Lance Corporal Nealey's mother. He died in Iraq in October at the age of 24.
"People go about their day to day life without giving it a second thought. And it's just something you see in the paper, or it's on the evening news. But they just flip the channel and go on with life."
On this day, however, many in the town of Eaton Rapids took time to pause, to remember, to say thank you to Michgan's heroes.