Families of service members buried at Dayton National Cemetery share powerful stories

Families of service members buried at Dayton National Cemetery share powerful stories (WKEF/WRGT)

DAYTON, Ohio(WKEF/WRGT) - Thousands of men and women buried at Dayton National Cemetery received emotional visits from Miami Valley families Monday.

Among the rows of names and numbers there are no faces, except for the ones ingrained in the memories of those silently looking over rows of marble headstones.

Memorial Day is a time when people find peace and reflect.

"We were married for 40 years," said Tech Sgt. Thomas Stramata, as he stared over the headstone of his wife. "She's my best friend."

Stramata and his son shared a moment for Somwang, who died in March from lung cancer.

"I know she's listening," Sgt. Stramata told Fox 45's Shavon Anderson. "Just want to tell her that I love her."

Acres away in Section R, Row 0, Thelma Tipton sat in front of the headstone of the man who walked her down the aisle on her wedding day.

"Frank David Buck," she said. "I'm so proud of him. He is my hero, to me."

But, you don't have to be family to feel the impact of what these men and women have done both inside and outside of service.

"This is Mr. Copeland," said Spc. John Smith III, walking through rows of flags.

Tech Sgt. Donald Copeland of the United States Air Force is a reason why Spc. Smith is 25 years sober.

"He was a sponsor of mine," Spc. Smith, an army veteran, told Fox 45's Shavon Anderson. "Him being a part of my recovery, he helped me keep life simple. I sadly miss him, but I know he's looking at me and saying, 'Just keep living one day at a time.'"

A lot of visitors were veterans, taking on a different meaning to Memorial Day as they looked at their loves ones and their future.

"They're saving a space for me when I'm in there," Sgt. Stramata said. "So, we'll be together."

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