For Ray Ruffing, the importance of Memorial Day is not lost on him.
The Korean War veteran was one of many who gathered Monday at the Ohio Veterans Home to pay tribute to men and women in the armed forces.
While a faint smell of barbecues hung in the air and children scrambled for candy, Ruffing stood erect and kept his eye on the waving flags.
"I've always thought that some of the veterans are forgotten," he said. "They shouldn't just honor them on Memorial Day, but everyday."
About 4,000 graves line the front of the Veterans Home along Columbus Avenue and more than 600 veterans call the facility home.
"I think we need to pay homage to those who are serving," Ohio Veterans Home volunteer coordinator Linda Johnston said. "It's something that won't be forgotten. It shows those who are serving that we care."
During the service, 12 wreaths were placed on the lawn and three shots rang out, shattering the somber silence.
Vietnam veteran George Hires lives at the Veterans Home and took in the parade and service.
Hires said the ceremony is a welcome for all veterans because it makes them feel appreciated.
"Lot of people got sons, daughters, husbands and other relations in the armed forces," Hires said. "(We need) to show respect for the ones that are serving."
While her grandchildren waved flags and collected candy, Faith Parker's eyes glazed over as she thought about her brother, who was injured in Vietnam.
Parker said she's brought her grandchildren to the parade for 11 years. She said she hopes when they get older that they will realize it's more than just a day off.
"I can make sure my grandchildren understand the importance of Memorial Day. It's a day to remember," Parker said. "We're here because these men and boys fought for that freedom."
Johnston said patriotism was evident throughout the parade and service.
"When we have people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, it does make people more patriotic," Johnston said. "There's more awareness."
Apart from his service in the Navy for four years, Ruffing said the annual holiday holds even greater significance for him now. His granddaughter is serving in the Air Force.
"I'm very proud of her," Ruffing said. "I think it's in her mind to serve our country."
Americans have been honoring veterans since the holiday began in 1868, three years after the Civil War ended, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Memorial Day was once called Decoration Day and was officially declared a national holiday in 1971.