'Ultimate Sacrifice': Veterans share what Memorial Day means to them

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Inside VFW Post 7383 in Cary, Commander Jeff Sherman looks down at the list of names he wrote, now lying on the Table of Remembrance.

"Twenty names on that card paid the ultimate sacrifice," Sherman said.

"Every time you walk through here, there's always a point of reflection," added Brandon Carson who served in the Marine Corps and is the Junior Vice Commander.

Both men have ties to the state; Sherman retired from Camp Lejeune after more than two decades in the military in 2013, while Carson is a Cary native.

"No matter where I've gone, no matter where I've been, this has always been home. If we can help the veterans that are in this community, we've done something good," said Carson.

The goal of giving back motivates Cathie Croitz-Holman, a US Army veteran who is the Post's Vice Commander. She raised her family in North Carolina, and her son, SSG Anthony Holman, followed in her footsteps.

"I play mom to some of these kids, but I also have that insight as a mother but also as a soldier," Croitz-Holman said.

As many veterans' families know too well, their families often serve in a different capacity.

"When I saw my sister and two Marines following her, I knew," Gold Star wife Jean Roberts recalled.

She was just 23 when her first husband Paul Andrew Jensen, a Morehead Scholar at UNC, died in Vietnam. Ahead of Memorial Day, memories of him are rushing back.

"And a lot of the reflections are good. And they're happy," Roberts said.

Roberts will take part in a ceremony Monday honoring those who died in combat.

"To remember the sacrifice that each and every one of those veterans who laid their lives down, what they did. I came home. Some of my friends did not. It is extremely imperative that we as a nation remember those that do for us without asking," Sherman said.

According to Carolina Demography, as of 2019, about 642,000 veterans lived in North Carolina, with Sherman noting nearly 70,000 lived in Wake County. His goal is to try and encourage veterans to reach out to groups like the VFW for support, especially important during these times.

"I found a home here. I found a family, and I found that people can understand some of the challenges that we as veterans face every day," Sherman said.
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