Memorial Day honors those who have made ultimate sacrifice

Memorial Day weekend is often interchangeably referred to as the 'unofficial start of summer,' but amid all the sun-filled fun a more somber meaning is at the core of the holiday. 

The day to honor the fallen service men and women of the United States armed forces holds a special place in Linda Hayes' heart. Linda is the daughter of Charles Helbling, a 91-year-old Korean War veteran. 

Charles was one of the more than 100,000 wounded in battle, but like many of his comrades he spoke little of his exploits when he returned home.

"Not until the last few years now has he talked about the war," Linda said. "And when he does, to this day, he'll break down over it, there are a lot of painful memories."

Linda's annual trip to the Washington Crossing National Cemetery is not a new tradition. Linda remembers accompanying her father on Memorial Day weekends to the resting place.

"This was huge for my Dad. He loved this. He loved being around people that served in the military," Linda said.

Linda's mother is buried in the cemetery as the wife of an Army Corporal. 

Meanwhile Charles is 91-years-old and wheelchair bound, making it difficult for him to visit the hallowed grounds he appreciates so much.

Linda still visits, partly out of a sense of duty. After all, service is bred into her family. Linda's son is a Philadelphia police officer and former Marine. Her brother-in-law was also a Philadelphia cop who was killed in the line of duty.

When she looks out over the headstones in Washington Crossing National Cemetery, she sees something very special. Something known uniquely to those who have paid for our freedom.

“I can imagine, as a lot of these family members that lost their love ones, how difficult it must be. Very difficult. But to know that they served our country- that they served us- it’s just something to be proud of," Linda said.