Memorial Day Hits Home for Families of Service Members

Americans flock to Arlington National Cemetery to remember fallen soldiers.

ByABC News
May 31, 2010, 6:07 PM

May 31, 2010— -- At Arlington National Cemetery, the start of summer has always been the soberest of days, with the white gravestones eternally at attention decorated in red, white and blue.

In the 142 years since the first Memorial Day, nearly a million American lives have been lost in nine wars. Today, military members saluted the fallen soldiers as civilians placed their hands over their heavy hearts.

"We pause today to remember them," Vice President Joe Biden said. "They gave their lives fulfilling their oath to this nation and to us."

Biden laid the ceremonial wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, calling military members the "spine of this nation."

Around the world, from Kabul, Afghanistan, to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, the fallen were remembered by name and by candlelight.

Back in Arlington, Section 60 of the cemetery, where America's most recent casualties of war are buried, is a place where you can't escape the true meaning of the day.

"We used to think Memorial Day was a day of picnics and going to the beach, a day off from work," Michael Belle said. "It was a holiday."

For the Belle family of Fairfax, Virginia, all that changed five years ago.

"It was Mother's Day 2005, Mother's Day, they came to the door at 9 o'clock that night," Beth Belle said, informing them their son Lance Corporal Nicholas Kirven had been killed clearing a cave in Afghanistan.

"Unfortunately we learned it the hard way, but it has given us such a deeper meaning for what this day is all about," Beth Belle said.