FORT MYERS, Fla.-- Congressman Connie Mack visited Fort Myers Memorial Gardens Monday to honor those who have lost their lives serving their country.
Hundreds of people gathered for the morning service and cook out.
Among those marking the occasion were Navy Reservist Joe Conway and his son Grayson. The father held his young son in his arms as veterans remembered their fallen comrades Monday.
Grayson says he wants to fly airplanes when he gets older. And while he may be too young to enlist in the armed forces, service to country runs in his family.
"He comes from a long line of folks who have been in the military," Conway explained. "I just want him to appreciate where we live and know that freedom isn't free... I just want him to know today is a day that we honor those people who've laid down their lives and made the ultimate sacrifice."
Hundreds of small American flags filled the grounds at the Memorial Gardens off Colonial Blvd. and Summerlin Road. They each designated a spot where a man or woman who served their country was laid to rest.
"It's those brave men and women who allow us to live under this blanket of freedom and we should all be thankful to them," Congressman Connie Mack said following the ceremony. He spoke briefly during the service and spent some time following the event speaking to veterans and families of those who've died in battle.
The emotional event included a tribute to those who fought at the Battle of Iwo Jima and a reading of the Gettysburg Address in honor of the casualties of the Civil War.
While many of the veterans in attendance served in the wars of the last century, the younger service men and women also took time to reflect on the recent deaths during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"It hits hard," Conway explained of his experiences losing friends to the perils of war. "Shows your own mortality possibly. Going in and thinking your invincible in that sense. But it's those guys that I always look up to.
White doves were released in to the late morning sky in memory of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country.
There is currently one Medal of Honor recipient buried at Fort Myers Memorial Gardens. Samuel Sampler served in the Army during World War I. He died in 1979.