The tradition of honoring those died while serving in this country`s armed forces began after the Civil War in 1868. It`s at this national cemetery in Alton, Illinois where many Civil War veterans, some 200 union soldiers are buried. Some residents in the river bend came to pay tribute at this unique sunset Memorial Day service.
For ten years Richard Baird has been coming to the Alton National Cemetery. He spearheaded the cleanup and start of this sunset service to remember those who served in the armed forces.
Baird says Baltimore, Hawaii and Alton are the only three national cemeteries that hold such events at the close of this day. There were speeches, songs and somber reminders of what memorial day is really about.
This national cemetery here in Alton along with Jefferson Barracks in south county are just two of 131 national cemeteries spread over 40 states.
Richard Baird the organizer of the event mentioned a phrase in tonight's ceremony that sticks true on this Memorial Day, "We should guard these graves with sacred vigilance."