Families remember their loved ones at Martinsville Memorial Day service

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. (WDBJ7) During the Memorial Day Service in Martinsville at Roselawn Cemetery, leaders took the time to specifically honor two local veterans.

The remains of POW, MIA United States Army Sergeant First Class Raymond McMillian were brought back to Martinsville in March.

And United States Army Staff Sergeant Douglas Stewart who passed away last fall.

WDBJ7's Danielle Staub spoke with the families.

"It was an honor, to honor this to him and I know he's, he'll be smiling you know," late Staff Sergeant Douglas Stewart wife, Betty Stewart said.

The wife of late United States Army Staff Sgt Douglas Stewart tells WDBJ7 her husband served in Vietnam from 1967 to 1969.

He passed away in November of 2015 from cancer.

The Memorial Day Ceremony at Roselawn Cemetary in Martinsville was dedicated to Staff Sergeant Stewart.

"It's sad because last year I was here with him and everything," Stewart said.

Her son is currently serving in the United States Navy.

Stewart says she is constantly praying for his safety.

"Pray for these military men and women and for their safety," Stewart said. "We should praise them more and everything because they sacrifice their life for us so we can have freedom."

And on Memorial Day, we honor those who gave that ultimate sacrifice.

This year, one of those brave men who had been missing for 65 years, may his way home.

"So it just kind of feels like everything came full circle. And he's back where he belongs after being gone for so long," Sergeant First Class McMillian's Great Niece Samantha Strickland said.

Sergeant First Class McMillian's remains were found and identified through new DNA technology.

His family says being able to accept an honor on his behalf this Memorial Day is an overwhelming peace.

"He paid the ultimate sacrifice. He gave his life so I can be free, you can be free. There's not a lot of people that would do that. And for him to do it at such a young age. He not only sacrificed his life but he sacrificed his future," Strickland said.

Veterans say recognition like this allows people to connect more knowing someone from their hometown who died protecting our nation.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Virginia 5th District Commander Herman Chaney says as a veteran, you are a representation for those who can't be here anymore.

"You're trying not to think back about it, you can't help it sometimes. It's a situation where you were lucky you didn't become one of the ones you are going to represent," Chaney said.

The 5th District Commander wants any and all vets from Iraq, Iran, or Afghanistan who may not be a member of a VFW or American Legion to please join.

Do not be afraid to reach out to your local post.

He says they are looking for members and especially younger ones.