For decades on the last Monday in May, hundreds gather in Brandon to honor our fallen soldiers.
The ceremony honors their sacrifice and those of the families they leave behind.
Year after year they come to the Rankin County Courthouse on Memorial Day remembering those who lost their lives in service to their country.
In recent years the list has grown longer. Marine Staff Sergeant Jason Rogers is now among them.
"Know that freedom is not free, for men like him is why we can do what we do today," said Rogers' stepfather, Eddie Smith.
The Brandon High School graduate died while on patrol April 7th in Afghanistan, two days before his 29th birthday.
"This is a Memorial Day I'll never forget," Smith said. "It's been a tough month, and Jason's been very special to me, and it was an honor that he was my stepson. I love him, and I'll miss him."
"Because of us, the Star Spangled Banner does yet wave over the land of the free and home of the brave," said U.S. Senator Roger Wicker to the families and friends assembled inside the courthouse.
Marine Lance Corporal Philip Clark, a Jackson native, was also honored.
"It is a very proud day. It is a very hard day," said his aunt Andrea Lloyd.
Insurgents attacked Clark's unit in May 2010 in Afghanistan. He was 19 years old.
"He was so proud to serve his country," Lloyd said. "We knew he was going to the front lines. He was the lead man and we tried to talk him out of going into that position, but he was prepared to die for his country."
"They passed from this world as heroes. They served, and they served with honor," said CMSgt Joseph Moss with the Mississippi Air National Guard.
Another war hero, Pearl native Army Staff Sergeant David Self, was killed by insurgents May 16th in Afghanistan.
Congressmen and state officials along with everyday Americans paused to pay tribute to the men and women who defended this country to the death.
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