COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — With the sunshine and warm temperatures across central Ohio, many spend Monday’s holiday at the pool or cooking out with family and friends.
On this Memorial Day, advocates for veterans are encouraging Americans to take time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
The National Veteran’s Memorial and Museum held its annual Memorial Day remembrance ceremony in downtown Columbus this morning.
“What veterans do and have done for this country, we owe a great debt and can never repay it.” said chairman of the board of veterans’ appeals Cheryl Mason.
Mason’s journey has been full-circle with her father serving in the Navy during World War II, her brother serving as a ranger in the U.S. Army, and her husband is a retired veteran from the Air Force.
As chairman of the board of veteran’s appeals, Mason is advocating for the many men and women, like her family members, who served.
“It’s our job to ensure that we take care of them and that they get the recognition, respect, and dignity, and honor that they deserve,” said Mason. “It impacts everything I do. It impacts, seriously, everything I do.”
She spoke at the ceremony and opened up about the deaths of her father and brother, who both took their own lives as a result of the trauma they experienced while serving.
It’s for her family, and the many veterans like them, that she now calls for a change in culture to increase awareness around mental health.
“They still struggle,” said Mason. “And at VA that’s really important to us understand what our veterans and their families are going through because it’s not just our veterans it’s our families too.”
Monday’s sun shined bright on the flags gracing the front lawn of the museum with veterans at the ceremony remembering those lost and those now fighting battles at home.
“Was it worth it? Was the loss worth it? Was my service worth it? I’m here to tell you, yes. Yes, the noble service of your loved one was worth it.” said Lt. General Michael Ferriter, a veteran of the U.S. Army.
The Museum didn’t charge admission during the holiday weekend but is accepting donations which it said will support veterans, Gold Star families, and ensure future accessibility programming for all veterans.