POSTED: Monday, May 28, 2012 - 4:48pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - 10:28am
BATON ROUGE,LA (NBC33) — "It's overwhelming to know that people still care," says Gulf War veteran Mark Wojtusiak. Wojtusiak is touched by the packed house at the U.S.S. Veterans Memorial and Museum who paid tribute to all the military men, like himself, who risked their lives for the freedom that U.S. citizens enjoy. It's an appreciation that the 13 year military veteran says stretches far beyond just Memorial Day.
"We leave. We come home. They're looking forward to us being home. Whether it be loved ones, friends, family, somebody down the street that I don't even know. It's just phenomenal," says Wojtusiak.
One of those loved ones who made it out to the ceremony today was Wojtusiak's mother, Her sons, grandsons and brothers have all served in the military. She doesn't take for granted all that the veterans in her family have sacrificed for the U.S. of A.
"They wanted to do their duty and help protect the country, keep it safe for future generations," says Carol Mikolatczyk.
One of the speakers at the Memorial Day event was East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden. Holden believes that Memorial Day is not only a time to honor the service of our military men and women, but also a time to remember what they stand for. And if more people did that, he believes Baton Rouge and the nation would be a much safer place.
"Instead of taking somebody's life to show that you're the bad guy in the neighborhood. Why don't you listen to these veterans and learn how they were able to go through life, make things better for everybody without killing people in vain," says Holden.
It's a respect veterans like Wojtusiak see more and more. That's even from people he's meeting for the first time.
"I've had so many people walk up to me and shake my hand 'cause I wear my hat, complete strangers. I think it's just amazing that they welcome us...just because of the fact I wear my hat," says Wojtusiak.