LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — For Loretta Derritt Collins, visiting Leavenworth National Cemetery is a Memorial Day tradition, not only to honor family members but to provide a teaching moment for younger generations.
"We bring our children with us and we decorate graves so then when we pass on, they will know where their ancestors are," Derritt Collins said.
She and her family searched for her late Uncle Paul Lawrence Derritt's grave site. Derritt served in the Marines Corps and was one of six children – and the youngest brother of Derritt Collins' father.
"On the Derritt side, they were very family-oriented, very hard workers, they came from farms," Derritt Collins said.
Each grave site represents someone who was a member of the armed forces or a family member. And those who visited the rolling hills of grave sites told 41 Action News it's important to honor their service and to keep their memories alive.
"He just said that he served his country and that’s what – that was his calling," said Lundie Ryan, while visiting the grave site of her grandfather, Lloyd Nathan Ryan.
Ryan served in the Army during World War II and died at 91 years old.
"He just wanted us to be happy no matter what we were doing," Lisa Caldera, Ryan's granddaughter, said.
The thousands of grave sites are full of service members who will be forever remembered.
"I’m a proud American and proud to live in this country and proud to know that I have relatives that fought for the freedom here in this country in the United States of America," Derritt Collins said.
More information about Leavenworth National Cemetery can be found on the VA website.