ST. LOUIS – St. Louisans wrap up Memorial Day weekend with a special tribute to nearly 100 veterans coming home from a trip to D.C. with the Central Missouri Honor Flight Tuesday night.

With the wave of the American flag, a hug from loved ones, and plenty of applause, 97 Vietnam and Korean War veterans are welcomed back to St. Louis after a sentimental day in D.C.

“It meant a lot to me, so when I heard the call for them to come here and welcome these troops in,” said Phil Schendel, a Vietnam War veteran. “I wanted to come here and pay my respects.”

The impact is heightened as veterans are celebrated for their service just as Memorial Day weekend comes to a close.

One Vietnam veteran had a special experience remembering those he lost while in combat.

“I didn’t want to go because there were too many names, but I found one that I had never expected to find,” said Howard Sarquist, a Vietnam War veteran. “My commanding officer, he was missing in action since 1968. It almost killed me.”

Many on board were in disbelief when they saw the crowds.

“It’s amazing; it’s somewhat embarrassing because you don’t expect it,” said Art Welch, a Vietnam War veteran. “I wish it were done in the 70s when I came home the first time, but that’s alright. You win, if you lose, you feel something right now.”

Every man and woman is humbler than the next, finally, getting the respect that’s long overdue.

“I got honored at the women’s memorial in Washington, D.C., they put me up on the wall while I was there,” said Peggy Strong, a Vietnam War veteran. “Very proud.”

A simple thank you for showing what Memorial Day is all about. The remembrance, love, and most importantly gratitude for those who put their lives on the line.