MOUND CITY, IL (KFVS) - A Memorial Day Ceremony was held on Saturday, May 26 at the Mound City National Cemetery honoring and remembering the people who served in the Country's Armed Forces.
The program also had a special guest that made the trip from San Diego, CA back to his hometown of Mounds, IL.
Retired SPO First Class Navy Seal Elliott Miller was the guest speaker at the Memorial Day Ceremony. Miller helped honor and shake the hands of men who fought in the Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom as part of the Global War on Terrorism.
Miller already had served four years in the Marine Corps and was honorably discharged. He then answered the call after he was called back to duty again.
Miller re-enlisted in the Navy just a few days after the 9/11 attacks. 18 months later, he completed his Navy Seal training and joined a team as a combat medic and as a sniper.
In November 2006, Miller was in Iraq watching over a Marine patrol when he was hit by shrapnel from a grenade. Then, while teammates were trying to get him out, an explosive device detonated, severely wounding him.
"I was a sniper on the rooftop of a house when all hell broke loose," Miller said through his iPad in front of the audience. "I was shot at, grenaded, then blown up by an IED. But they would not get the best of me. I had decided to live. I had decided to fight until my last breath."
He said some men gave up more than we can fathom. Stories he has seen and heard about that he said he will never speak of.
"I honor all my brethren because one story, one soldier, is not more important than another," Miller added. "We all fight. We all serve to defend our country."
As Miller continued on his speech, he said it's important we honor those that fought for us. He also included that he will never forget those who fought next to him and all who have fought to give us the life that we have today.
"I am fighting today just to stand and speak," Miller added. "To find words that can touch upon my gratitude and my appreciation to all our fellow countrymen for their service and sacrifices they have made. However, I wish that the same could be said about the other men who couldn't make it home."
A handful of other soldiers were honored as well, including Army Veteran Clayton Bierbaum.
Clayton Bierbaum did everything he could to make sure the Mound City National Cemetery was maintained and to keep events going for years to come. He passed away in January 2018 and is deeply missed by the community.
"For years this has been really important to him to maintain the National Cemetery here in Mound City and be able to bring people here locally and not have to be away from family and friends," Clayton's son Ryan Bierbaum said. "It's an honor that they honored dad," Clayton's daughter Holly Lewis added.
We interviewed Clayton Bierbaum two years ago. He would help put out all the thousands of flags at each grave no matter what the weather was like. He said he loved his country and all those that fought for it.
"I was thinking yesterday, when they were putting the flags out, pouring down rain, and how many of these veterans suffer from inclement weather worse than that, they all did," Army Veteran Clayton Bierbaum said at the 2016 Mound City National Cemetery Memorial Day Program.
The Mound City National Cemetery has thousands of graves. Earlier this week, a flag was placed at every one of them including the over 2,700 Unknown Graves.
Many people we talked with say they love the flags at every grave and also love the support that so many people came out to and showed their respect.
The event concluded with the laying of the wreath along with a rifle, cannon salute and TAPS.