Tampa Bay families unite to honor fallen veterans at Bay Pines National Cemetery

Posted at 3:57 PM, May 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-29 17:15:05-04

Freedom is a word on many minds this Memorial Day. On Monday, we’re honoring those who gave their lives to keep us safe. 

One of the biggest ceremonies in the Tampa Bay area is at Bay Pines National Cemetery in St. Petersburg. There is now a flag at every grave, with more than 36,000 in the cemetery.

“Today we all celebrate everyone of the people who have kept us free,” Senator Bill Nelson said.

After speeches from our leaders, a fly-over and a 21-gun salute, the Rezac family is on a mission to find one grave. 

This is the first time Chris Rezac is visiting his grandfather, Brian Wilson, a marine veteran who served in World War II. 

“I thought it was a great idea to come out here for Memorial Day to recognize the lives lost for our freedom, so we came to visit my grandfather,” he said.

Along with serving his country, Wilson served as inspiration. Chris is also a veteran from the Iraq war and he said this holiday unites generations.

“Every age group, every walk of life and all prior services of different branches. You can look out in the field and see all the different flags and realize those are all people that were in the same brotherhood or community as you,” Chris said.

He shares that connection with his grandfather, even now, and hopes to share it with his own kids.

“We try to instill in them without being overbearing of what is needed for our freedom. That people do need to be willing to fight for it,” Chris said.

Although they deserve more, this day honors the fallen veterans. 

“You fight for anything you believe in, and we believe in our freedom,” Chris said.

Families have been visiting the cemetery all day, some leaving flowers and mementos for their loved ones.