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      Speakers inspire community to remember true meaning of Memorial Day

      People all over the country gathered today to honor the men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice while fighting for our freedom.

      Nearly 400 people gathered at Veterans Memorial Park in Traverse City for the annual Grand Traverse County Memorial Day Ceremony. Dozens of veterans were in attendance, and said they were happy to see the large number of people who came out to support their fallen brothers and sisters.

      "Today we have a great task to do," said Cindy Schwartz Walters, mother of fallen Air Force Tech. Sgt. Matthew Schwartz. Tech Sgt. Schwartz was killed in an ambush in Afghanistan January 5, 2012. "We must not ever let our young people of today forget the sacrifices that have been made to keep the freedoms safe and alive. We must tell their stories and thank the ones who gave their all."

      Lt. Col. Linda Fletcher was also asked to speak at the ceremony. Fletcher is the Executive Director of, A Matter of Honor, an organization focused on educating the community about post traumatic stress disorder.

      "PTSD is as old as war," said Fletcher. "As old as trauma. Known as soldiers heart in the civil war, shell shock in WWI and battle fatigue in WWII. This prolonged response to trauma is an invisible injury which perseveres and even flourishes long after the guns of war are silenced."

      The Kingsley High School Choir sang the National Anthem, while members of the United States Coast Guard raised the American flag.

      "Most people think of it as a holiday kind of thing," said Paul Waterstradt, Marine Corps League. "There's a time and place for that but this is Memorial Day. This is a time in which which we remember those that have gone before us."

      White roses were put down during the ceremony to represent each war that is recognized on Memorial Day.