Sunset Ceremony in Alton marks the sacrifices of veterans

ALTON, Ill. – For some it’s about their love, for others it’s their thought, but for all, it’s the sacrifice every veteran made that makes Memorial Day so emotional.

“Because it’s about we wouldn’t have everything that we have,” keynote speaker Kathleen Botterbush said.

Seated around veterans from various wars, Alton residents of all ages gathered to pay their respects.

“I feel kind of emotional but happy because it’s a place we can go on Memorial Day to pay respect those who gave their all for us,” visitor Robert Phillips said.

Along with precious sounds, the 13th annual Sunset Ceremony served as a time for everyone to reflect.

“These people loved our country so much that they would die for us,” Phillips said.

It’s that reflecting that high school graduate Botterbush does in her work with the Veterans Heritage Project.

Botterbush served as the first female keynote speaker at the ceremony and she spoke about how eye-opening her experience has been hearing and writing about veterans’ tough stories.

“It’s just a way to honor veterans and allow them to tell their stories because it does bring a lot of culture to them because they never got their chance to tell it,” Botterbush said.

As the sunsets over veterans’ headstones, it serves as a reminder that because of those sacrifices Americans are able to free.

Looking forward, organizers are hoping to make the national cemetery here in Alton more accessible for those with disabilities so they can enjoy the ceremony as well.