NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — On Memorial Day, the nation honored the brave men and women of the Armed Forces who died for our freedom.
Events marking the occasion returned across the Tri-State Area, after many traditions were put on hold because of the pandemic.READ MORE: Bethpage Air Show Lifts Off On Memorial Day For First Time In Event's History
Last year’s ceremony at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum was virtual. This year, veterans and their families said they were so glad to be there in person.
WATCH: Memorial Day Ceremony Returns To Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
The sound of “TAPS” echoing on the pier of the museum and the laying of memorial wreaths on the Hudson River were somber reminders of the true meaning of Memorial Day.
On Monday morning, current and former service members, their loved ones, and local dignitaries, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, returned for the annual Memorial Day ceremony at the Intrepid, honoring the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who have given their lives to defend our nation, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.
Last year, the event was virtual due to the pandemic.
“The Vietnam veterans, some of them don’t have access to computers. Some of them don’t have access to an iPad or a laptop, so they can’t, you know, necessarily participate virtually,” said Gregory Williams of Beta Phi military fraternity.READ MORE: Families Welcome Back Freehold's Memorial Day Parade: 'Our Version Of Mayberry'
So, being able to reunite Monday was extra special for veterans like Bob Cassara, who served on the U.S.S. Intrepid during its last deployment from 1969-73.
“I’ve been attending memorial services for at least 20-25 years. Yeah, I definitely missed the opportunity to be with my former crew members and other service members,” Cassara said.
That includes his former crewmate Stuart Gelband. The fellow comrades are now co-workers at the Intrepid Museum, educating visitors about the realities of serving one’s country.
“Freedom comes at a cost. A lot of the past, people sacrificed, including my brother, who served in Vietnam. He was fortunate enough to come home, but he was never the same,” Gelband said.
These are often unspoken sacrifices that following generations are making sure aren’t forgotten.
“Just to have a day just to honor this and to serve this, really just … I’m so excited to be here and to be a part of that,” said Marine Cpl. Dana Reminsky of Boonton, New Jersey.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the ceremony was only open to a limited number of guests, which made Monday even more meaningful for those who were present.MORE NEWS: Watch: CBS News' Steve Hartman On Continuing 'Taps Across America' Tradition
CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge contributed to this report