NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Memorial Day ceremony honoring our fallen heroes was held Monday morning at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

Active members of the armed forced, veterans and elected officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, attended the ceremony that included tossing wreaths into the Hudson River, the unfurling of a 100-foot American flag and a military aircraft flyover.

“When I think about Memorial Day, the first obligation we have is to remember those who were lost, to really honor them, to really think about them as people who did something so brave,” de Blasio said. “But then I think our next obligation is to support all those who came back.”

Richard Cole, a 102-year-old WWII Air Force veteran, is the last of the “Doolittle Raiders,” also known as the “Toyoko Raid” that took place on April 18, 1942.

“Today is a very, very important day,” said Cole. “It’s a national memorial to remember people that have given their lives.”

Though he retired from flying 51 years ago, Cole wants younger generations to remember one thing in particular.

“The key to the whole thing is freedom,” he said. “If you don’t work toward freedom, you’re working for somebody else.”

Cole was one of the ceremonial wreath layers, which included dozens of others who served on board the Intrepid, inspiring local Navy service member Anisha Wellington from Brooklyn to enlist.

“They have paved a way for us and our family and for every American here so we can be free,” she said.

Wellington brought her two daughters to understand the importance of the day and her career.

“I want them to know exactly why mommy wakes up so early in the morning and comes back so late at night and sometimes miss birthdays and stuff like that,” she said. “It’s very important for them to understand what I’m doing out here.”

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