SOLEDAD, Calif. (KION)
To retired veterans Tony Virrueta and Rick Cerros, Memorial Day is about more than just barbecues and gatherings.
On this day in particular, they bear in mind the passing of their young family members who lost their lives in combat.
Virrueta and Cerros are retired veterans from Monterey County who are very much involved in the veterans advocates community.
They say this pandemic not only made it harder for veterans to obtain health care services and come together, but now limitations from the pandemic are making it hard to have a traditional memorial ceremony on a holiday near and dear to them.
Virrueta says it is a sad day for him, but he hopes people will take a moment to think of the fallen heroes right from home.
"These young men and women lived born and raised here in Salinas, Monterey County...played at a park right here, graduated from our high schools. It's up to us just to honor them and say thank you very much. Thank you very much for your service," says Virrueta.
Every day, Cerros carries a photo of his late son with him.
He says it's not just important to remember the fallen troops, but also their families who may be at home still struggling with their loss.
"People tell me before, 'Happy Memorial Day' and I have to remind them it's not a happy day when people lose their loved ones," says Cerros, "When they hand you the folded flag at the funeral, it's a horrible, horrible feeling."
There is no telling just yet when restrictions will be lifted but these veterans say they will continue to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
They will hold a special tribute at Selodad Cemetery later today.
The memorial will be streamed live and online on the Soledad Police Department Facebook page.