They came by the hundreds Monday to Fort Richardson National Cemetery to honor the soldiers and family members buried there.
Little American flags flapped in front of each white marble headstone. The oldest date back to World War II. About a dozen troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan are buried or have gravestones there.
The pain never goes away, said Sandy Bohling, mother of Sgt. Matthew Bohling, a lifelong Alaskan killed in Iraq at age 22. It's been nearly five years for her family. Matt was killed in combat Sept. 5, 2005, just after a trip home on leave.
At the official Memorial Day ceremony, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich talked about the "horrific price" of war.
U.S. Rep. Don Young asked everyone to take a deep breath "and thank God you have a breath of freedom because of our veterans."
Veterans Affairs counselor Bob Nelson reminded everyone to "never forget."
Gov. Sean Parnell said many there still "drink from the cup of grief."
The familiar sentiments about sacrifice and the ultimate price don't hit home until it's your family, your son, lost to war, said Chuck Bohling, Matt's father, and a retired soldier with 31 years in the Army and Army National Guard.
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