ALBANY, N.Y. -- Memorial Day weekend is an opportunity to remember those who have served to defend our freedom and who made the ultimate sacrifice. To honor local fallen heroes, hundreds of flags were laid on their graves at Graceland Cemetery in Albany.
"It's Memorial Day weekend, a lot of folks think it's BBQ weekend, a three day weekend, the start to the summer, which it is all of those things, but this weekend is really about us honoring our fallen and the men and women that made the ultimate sacrifice," said veteran Tom Griswold.
Dozens took that message to heart Saturday, as they came out to Graceland Cemetery to lay a flag on each fallen hero's grave.
"It's different from stone to stone, and grave to grave, because a lot of the times you can read their info and where they were and where they served and then you do the math to figure out if they died in combat or did they get to come home and live their life," said Griswold.
While Veteran's Day celebrations focus on those still with us, many feel Memorial Day is more bittersweet as they remember those who have passed.
“It's a mixed bag of feelings when you're decorating a fellow veteran's grave considering you're standing on this side of the dirt," Griswold said.
"It's almost appropriate that it's raining and overcast today because that's how we feel," veteran James Ader said.
And though they laid each flag with a heavy heart, Ader said, “It's an important tradition to us especially to carry on because someone else eventually is going to have to do it for so we want to show them how good it feels to do it and also why it's so important."
At the end of the day, Purple Heart recipient, Staff Sergeant Donald Leinfelder, said the best way to celebrate the holiday is just showing appreciation.
"A lot of vets, they don't want to be thrown on a pedestal or anything else. Just say 'thank you for your service' and a nice handshake and that's really what it's all about," he said.