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How the West Tennessee Veterans Cemetery honors those who have served on Memorial Day

"A veteran is somebody who wrote a blank check ... for up to and including his own personal life," Colonel Elmer Follis said.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — When someone mentions "Memorial Day," many descriptions come to mind for the average citizen. What is "'the start of summer" for most is actually a bittersweet reminder of paying the ultimate price for others.

Martin Hoffert is the Chairman of the West Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery Support Committee. He said the cemetery was started in 1992. Back then, there were 40 graves that he paid tribute to on Memorial Day.

"I have a friend who is buried here," Hoffert said. "My son and I came out, I didn't know if they had a program, so we said lets pick up a couple of flags and go take care of Matt." 

Hoffert said the two then volunteered to help one man they saw that day doing the same.

"He remembered me and called me the next year, so that's how it got started," Hoffert said. "Right now if you look out there you will see how many people are out. If you go out there you won't see anyone playing hopscotch over the headstones or sitting on the headstones. You won't here much talking out there. It's very quiet."

Colonel Elmer Follis who served in both the Marine Core (during the 1940s) and the U.S. Airforce (From 1951 to 1982).

"A veteran is somebody who at some point wrote a blank check payable to the United States of America for up to and including his own personal life," Follis said. "Today we came out to honor those people who had their checks cashed for the full amount."

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