Hundreds gathered on May 27 at the only national cemetery for military personnel in the Wisconsin, to honor the memory and sacrifices of the tens of thousands buried there.

Over the week leading up to Memorial Day, teams of volunteers planted more than 35,000 American flags by the headstones. Many of those fallen date back to the Civil War, when the Old Soldiers Home was founded to care for those returning Union veterans from Milwaukee.

“On this day of remembrance, and always, we honor those who left their mark on history. We memorialize the sacrifices they made for the sake of our freedom, our children’s generations, and our nation’s future. As the benefactors of their legacy, we must ensure that the achievements and sacrifices of those who served are never forgotten. Today, and always, we will think of our service members, their families, and their friends and the role they have all played in protecting our values and the things we hold dear.” – Governor Tony Evers

Guest speakers included Congresswoman Gwen Moore and board members from the Fisher House, with a flyover by the Wisconsin Wing of the Commemorative Air Force. The ceremony concluded with veterans and active duty soldiers standing shoulder to shoulder and laying of wreaths. Black balloons were released to coincide with a prisoner of war and missing in action roll call.

These images share the emotional highlights from the 2019 event at Wood National Cemetery, organized by the Milwaukee VA Medical Center.