PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Hundreds of people gathered across the tri-state area on Sunday to pay their respects to the country's fallen military members and their families.
"We went to the Army's band, they played at the waterfront and they echoed the same thing about how 'it's time to celebrate but time to honor those who gave for this country,'" said Ken Maiese of Society Hill.
Local veterans groups laid wreaths, had a rifle salute and played TAPS in Williamstown, Gloucester County and Pennsauken, Camden County.
Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday in 1971. It was initially known as "Decoration Day" to honor fallen soldiers after the Civil War.
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For Josh Jabin with the Travis Manion Foundation, this weekend serves as a reminder of the friends he lost in the Marine Corps.
"I talk about all of the lives of those fallen heroes, not just the last day, but how they lived and the example that they set. The example of living with character, of having integrity, of doing the right thing at all times," said Jabin.
The Foundation develops "programs and training opportunities designed to empower veterans and families of the fallen and inspire them to pass on their values to the next generation."
Jabin said Memorial Day is special for Gold Star Families because the entire country is acknowledging the sacrifices made for the county.
"They would each want us to have fun this weekend. But as we're having fun, as we're celebrating this time with our families, I hope that we can all acknowledge those people that allow us to live our way of life," Jabin said.
In Society Hill, visitors at the Vietnam War Memorial said they want to teach their kids the importance of this weekend.
"Every time we go around here or in Washington, D.C., I will remember the year '68. That's the year that Americans joined the fight with South Vietnam," said Kiet Chau of New York City.
There will be two Memorial Day events on Monday at Penn's Landing, one at 11 a.m. at the Korean War Memorial and another at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at 12:30 p.m.
"When you think about the people who really served, who really actually allow us to enjoy the time and the relaxation but also what they gave for themselves to have the freedom and have a wonderful country that we have today," said Maiese.
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