Some two hours before the start of the big Memorial Day tribute at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, I met Arlene Bearce. The 83-year old woman was sitting on a bench near the field where the ceremony would take place.
Arlene told me her Vietnam veteran son, Charles Bearce died of cancer less than two months before Memorial Day last year. She didn't make it to last year's event, but she wanted to be here this time. While her son lived for many years after his time in combat, Arlene says he still sacrificed plenty for his country and deserves this day of recognition. Come to think of it, Arlene says veterans should be recognized every day.
She told me how whenever she sees someone in uniform (she sees airmen and women from Scott Airforce Base at Walmart from time to time) she makes the effort to walk up and thank them for their service She says some are caught off guard saying they're not used to that. Most smile and say thanks.
Arlene says she's frustrated when the National Anthem plays and people don't stand with their hands on their hearts.
On this Memorial Day, Arlene's thoughts are with current soldiers in Afghanistan for whom today is not a holiday. One of her grandsons is there now. She has other grandchildren who've served in Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
Arlene gets emotional when she hears TAPS, but what really hits her is the vastness of Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery and the approximately 178,000 service people buried there. She says the gravestone patterns are beautiful. Looking at them all makes gives her just a sampling of all the people who've fought to make our country free and keep it that way.
Governor Nixon was here today. So was Senator McCaskill and Congressman Carnahan, but Arlene Bearce said all that needed to be said.
Mark Schnyder is a reporter at KMOV-TV. He can be reached at email@example.com