GONZALES, La. (BRPROUD) — Around 80 people came from all over the country to pay their respects at the Ascension Veterans Memorial Park on Saturday, Aug. 12.

“They need to be honored and recognized every day,” Committee Chairman for Ascension Veterans Memorial Park Shelby Ballard said.

“I’m honored to be able to say thank you to them,” Ballard said.

He said there are some things people should not take for granted.

“The military and veterans that served have been the ones that have protected our freedoms in our day-to-day life to them we owe the honor,” Ballard said.

And with honor, they live on.

“It’s not about me right now. It’s about the Vietnam guys and the few World War II guys we have left,” U.S. Army Commander Jason Sedotal said.

Sedotal is the Commander of the Military Order Purple Heart. He said the goal is to make others aware of the Purple Heart’s meaning.

But most importantly, Sedotal encourages others to understand the cost of freedom.

“Freedom is not free. Go visit the national cemetery in Fort Hudson and you’ll see the cost of freedom,” Sedotal said.