The moment was bittersweet. The moment the family, of Private First Class Andrew Nelson, unveiled his memorial.
"We're glad we're able to do this for Andrew, but we wish we didn't have to," says his father Alan.
It's been six months since Nelson was killed by a roadside bomb near Baghdad -- leaving behind his friends and loved ones.
"He was a devoted and loving husband to his wife Christie," says Kim Brewbaker, his swim coach.
"It's been really hard because he was two years older than me," says his sister Jessica. "So we were closer than probably him and my little sister."
On Wednesday, Independence Day, more than one hundred people gathered to remember Nelson -- in his hometown of St. Johns.
"I know, I'll never be able to sit down with him and talk about memories until I get up there with him, " says his friend Mike Harden. "And I can't wait till that day."
The "Lest They Be Forgotten" memorial is the eleventh to be dedicated in Michigan since 2005.
"Why do we do it? I think, again, it helps the family in healing. It also helps reinforce the fact that their son or daughter's sacrifice will not be forgotten," explains LTBF Executive Director John Bushart.
"It's really hard but I'm very proud that he died living his dream," says his mom Tami.
His dream -- to fight for his country.
"I just want to say thank you Andrew, for all you've done for me, and all you've done for everybody," says Harden.