ROYAL OAK, Mich. (WJBK) - Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start to summer but it's important to remember why it was created in the first place: honoring the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms.
U.S. Navy Veterans John Williams and Gary Martin look at Memorial Day differently.
"On October 1, 1972, a 325 pound projectile exploded inside the center turret of gun barrel number 2 and it killed 20 of my shipmates during wartime," Williams said.
"You try to forget if you don't it will consume you," Martin said.
When Williams and Martin think think of Memorial Day, a picnic or cookout doesn't come to mind. It's the extreme loss that can never be replaced
"They say loss like it's just a word but to be there and see someone get killed and know that person who got killed it's more than a loss. It's a feeling inside that never went away," Martin said. "It's part of you being lost."
As these veterans come together at Oak Ridge Elementary School they hope young people will learn that the fight for freedom is not free and it's a privilege to live in the land of the free.
An original Rosie the Riveter, Delphine Klaput, was also at the school. The 93-year-old says she worked in an airplane factory as many men went off to war. And she says her heart goes out for those who never made it back home alive.
"We are very fortunate that we live in the United States," Klaput said.
Martin says when he thinks of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice he wishes he could speak then again.
"I would to say hi to them or what's up let's go get a drink that's what I wish I could say to them what time you gonna be home tonight?" Martin said.