Christine Lee, Grand Prairie Reporter
About 700 people attended the Veterans Memorial in Grand Prairie to pay their respects to their local heroes.
Hundreds gathered at the Veterans Memorial in Grand Prairie to pay their respects on Memorial Day.
The annual event has been growing over the past seven years and is now a multigenerational tradition.
A long red carpet with greeters of all ages welcomed the public to the park. Some of the attendees were missing their family members who are currently serving overseas.
"Tell 'em hi, y'all take care. I love y'all. Hang in there," said Bea Dalby, who hoped her family members could see her via the NBC 5 video report.
Others, like retired Marine Victor Newsom, checked out the site for the first time.
"An hour out of my day is nothing. I feel honored to be here, and just to pay tribute to those fallen soldiers," said Newsom.
At the center of the site are five pillars, each representing a different military branch. Names inscribed under each branch represent Grand Prairie residents who died while on active duty. Each name was read aloud during the memorial service.
Many in the crowd did not know the fallen heroes firsthand, but it didn't seem to matter.
Grand Prairie Resident Joann Benavidez-Worrell, who has seven members of her family serving in the military, said she felt the pain of those families of those whose names are on the pillars.
"[They are] someone's kids, someone's nieces, someone's mommy and daddy. We've lost so many mommys and daddys, and have so many kids without their parents. And so, it's sad," said Benavidez-Worrell.
Many veterans came out to pay their respects as well. City spokesperson Susan Henson said the event has brought them comfort.
"The gentlemen that come that are veterans, ex-military, tell me how much it means to them and it helps them let go of those terrible stories that they bring back," Henson said.
More than 700 people were estimated to have been out at the service on Monday morning.
They were treated to an All-American lunch- hot dogs, lemonades, and cookies. Henson said most of the expenses were paid for by donations.