It’s a unique Central New York tradition honoring veterans and the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice on Memorial Day. Candace Hopkins tells us more about the annual Watchfire at the New York State Fairgrounds.
ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- Thousands look on as a massive pile of wood and flags is set ablaze.
The annual Watchfire tradition honors the sacrifices of soldiers past and present and it's a reminder of the true meaning of memorial day.
"A lot of people think this is a barbecue day, that Memorial Day is a big barbecues and everything else; but it’s not, it’s to remember all of our fallen soldiers, our veterans, both the ones who are disabled and that we've lost, that have given all,” said Ron Atwood, Air Force Active Duty.
Through the years, this event has grown a lot, and veterans said it’s great to feel the public’s support, especially for Vietnam veterans because they didn't always have it.
"Back a long time ago, the guys didn't get the support that they did now. Afghanistan vets and Iraqi vets, we get a lot of support from the American people, and it’s really good. It makes a man feel really good like we did something that we were supposed to do for America,” said Michael Parrow, Army Active Duty.
And it's also a chance for the next generation to understand the cost of freedom.
"It's so important. I mean everything that's going on in this world, the kids need to know, families need to know, people need to know, what we have, and we need to be thankful for that. We have our freedom. We have everything,” said Laurie Palmer, Baldwinsville resident.
Many veterans said this event is a healing experience that they'll carry with them long after it's over.