HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WSAV) – On Hilton Head Island, hundreds came to listen to a local military leader and honor those who paid the ultimate price in war.

“Here you are of your own volition,” said Col. Bradley Ward, Commanding Officer MCRD Parris Island. “You chose to be here and that tells me all I need to know about you, your character, your unwavering devotion and loyalty to this country.”

The Hilton Head Veterans Memorial amphitheater seats were filled with veterans, friends, and family. All want to honor those who gave their lives for our country.

“Honoring those that gave their all so that we can enjoy the freedom that we do now.”

“We just have to honor those that kept us free, forever.”

Military men and women were here because they lost someone or many people. Those close to them in battle. Now they show pride to continue in their memory.

Col. Bradley Ward, Commanding Officer of Parris Island speaks at the Hilton Head Memorial Day ceremony

The biggest contingent is the Gleason family. Their t-shirts honor Grandma’s birthday. But that’s not the reason they are here.

This is the 15th straight year multiple generations of the family from around the country attend the ceremony as a tribute to their father or grandfather.

“It’s incredibly special and has trickled down to our children and even some of the great-grandchildren too,” said Stephanie Hudkins. “The meaning of being a patriot and supporting our country and supporting our veterans.”

The sound of taps echoes through the park. The veterans of all wars stand at attention for their fallen heroes.

Colonel Bradley Ward, Commanding Officer of Parris Island, says the men and women who died in battle, deserve our respect now and forever.

“I would tell you that to know a fallen warrior is to know courage, said Colonel Ward. “Is to witness determination. Discover the meaning of camaraderie and see with your own eyes an unabashed sense of pride. I have been able to marvel at unimaginable sacrifices. To Know a fallen warrior is to know one’s true purpose, beyond that most would consider ordinary.” “

A new addition to this ceremony was just outside the amphitheater itself.

A local Rotary club created a field of honor. One flag was planted for each local fallen veteran. Their name is attached to the flagpole to show honor for these men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice.