BAY PINES, Fla (WFLA) — Soldiers who lost their lives while serving in the U.S military were remembered at a Bay Pines VA Memorial Day ceremony on Monday.
Gold Star families, veterans and community members gathered outside the Bay Pines National Cemetery for the event, which included a presentation of flowers, Taps and different speakers.
Carlos Del Castillo was a Gold Star Father recognized at the event. His son, Army Ranger Dimitri Del Castillo died in 2011 while serving in Afghanistan. He was 24-years-old when he was killed.
“It’s just always heartwarming to see the American people take time out of their day, it’s a beautiful day here in Florida, and folks are coming to this event, they could be anywhere doing anything but they are here, honoring their family members, honoring our family members,” Del Castillo shared.
Evelyn Brady is also a Gold Star parent who was honored during the ceremony. Her son, Naval Aircrewman, Mohammed “Mo” Haitham was killed in December 2019 at a military base in Pensacola.
The FBI reports a member of the Royal Saudi Air Force studying at the base killed Haitham and two other sailors in an act of terrorism.
“Once you receive that flag, the whole meaning of Memorial Day changes,” Brady said. “It’s about honoring those who have died for our country, protecting our freedoms.”