Hundreds gather to honor veterans during Memorial Day ceremony at Bay Pines National Cemetery

Posted at 5:01 PM, May 28, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla — Hundreds of people gathered in Bay Pines National Cemetery Monday to pay their respects and attend a Memorial Day ceremony. 

"It’s overwhelming, every year it’s overwhelming," said Peter Jonsson, a veteran who now helps other veterans at Bay Pines.

Flags decorated the 35,000 graves, representing the men and woman that have served in our military and their spouses. 

Gloria Crandall didn't shy away from sharing her father's story.

"He was very proud of the fact that he saw the first original flag raised on Mount Suribachi," she said smiling.

Merwin Crandall was just 17 when he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. He died in 1997 and ever since, Crandall and her mother coim to this spot each year to lay down flowers and honor his memory.

Today Glorida Crandall sat by herself.

"This is the first year that I’m here alone because my mom passed in August so I’d like you to meet my parents. This is Merwin and Hellen Crandall," she said, as she pointed down at the gravestones.

James Abraham Elliott served in the Vietnam war. He had a hard time holding back his emotion during the ceremony as he clutched a medal he received for his time served.

"It’s a day of celebration but it’s also a day of tears," he said. 

There was a standing ovation for Lt. Col. Glenn Sutphin as he shared his family's ritual on Memorial Day

"Be my family today, least we forget; least we forget," he said over the speaker.

"We couldn’t do half of the stuff we do here without the volunteers' support," said Jonsson. "You noticed the Boy Scouts were out here today pushing wheelchairs and the volunteers, none of this could happen without the volunteers."