Memorial Day

Miramar National Cemetery remembers sacrifice of fallen military members on Memorial Day weekend

The ceremony focused on the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion in France

NBC Universal, Inc.

Thousands of small American flags wave in the breeze at Miramar National Cemetery this Memorial Day weekend.

“It’s very comforting to come here," said Marion Simmons who lost her 22-year-old Marine son, Krystyan Tillet-Forman in January. This is the first Memorial Day her family will spend without the young Marine who died of natural causes at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in January.

Simmons admitted that until her son died, she didn’t give much thought to Memorial Day. That’s all changed. 

“Now it's so significant for us and for all the troops here that have lost their lives and their loved ones that are having to pick up the pieces and try to move on and figure out how to live without them," Simmons said.

Patriotic wreaths in red, white and blue adorn the Memorial Day weekend event at the Miramar National Cemetery on May 26, 2024. (NBC 7 San Diego)

Simmons and her family arranged flowers on her son’s grave. His father placed the replica of a racecar made of flowers at the base. “I know he’s looking down and saying 'Yeah!'” said Julian Forman.

At a nearby gravesite, Catherine Dingle Macabitas placed a birthday cake in front of her mother’s grave. She said it was an honor for her mother, a Navy wife, to be surrounded by the men and women who gave their lives to protect this country.

Both families joined hundreds for a ceremony to honor fallen soldiers. 

An attendee salutes in honor of fallen military servicemembers at the Miramar National Cemetery on May 26, 2024. (NBC 7 San Diego)

At least 4 of those in attendance were World War II veterans, including 97-year-old Andre Chappaz, who wore his Army uniform. It still fits. Chappaz led the Pledge of Allegiance and told NBC 7 he’s proud of his service in the South Pacific. 

“It was a great effort and we did it. At the the beginning of the war we were losing. The Japanese were experts at amphibious warfare but by the time was over we beat them at their own game,” he said, smiling broadly.

Among the speakers at the ceremony, the Consul General of France, Julie Duhaut-Bedos, who thanked the American allies for liberating her country. France is hosting an 80th commemoration of the D-Day invasion, the turning point in World War II. “We the French people know what we owe to this brotherhood of arms that links the United States and France forever. And for this I would like to express my, our gratitude with a single word in French. Merci. Thank you.” 

France is hosting American WWII Veterans for a ceremony in Normandy on June 6.

Young people honor fallen military members at the Miramar National Cemetery on May 26, 2024. (NBC 7 San Diego)
Mini American flags adorn each gravesite at the Miramar National Cemetery on Memorial Day weekend. (NBC 7 San Diego)
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