ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The annual Memorial Day sunset ceremony returned to Alton National Cemetery Monday.  Covid concerns disrupted plans for the past two years.   

Richard Baird is a Vietnam veteran who has led the effort to hold the annual observance for 17 years.  He said walking up the steps to the cemetery is an emotional journey.  Rows of gravesites are marked with American flags.  

“Each step coming up, I’m thinking of someone that I lost, an uncle in Korea, a brother-in-law in Vietnam, and dozens of friends from Vietnam,” said Baird.  

He hopes observers will take time to learn more about the names on headstones and the stories behind the sacrifices they made. 

The ceremony is one of a handful in the country held near sunset on Memorial Day.  Baird hopes the timing helps add emphasis to the effort to honor the memory of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.  He also hopes the event provides inspiration to help veterans who are still alive.  

“Search out and seek out those veterans that are not dead physically but emotionally and mentally suffering,” said Baird.  “Find someone you can reach out to in your community.”