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'Freedom is not free' | Thousands visit DC Memorial Day weekend to honor the fallen

Veterans, families and young children processed the significance of the historic memorials in DC that honor members of the military who died serving the nation.

WASHINGTON — This Memorial Day weekend people from across the country visited D.C. to pay respects to those members of the military who paid the ultimate price fighting for freedom.

On Saturday, 89-year-old William Parris was among the thousands of people walking along the National Mall visiting the various memorials.

Parris is a U.S. Navy veteran who spent three years, one month and 27 days as an active service member.

“I was 18 on my first tour, 19 on my second tour, came back to states, I had 10 must do and I thought ‘Oh boy, I don’t want to have to go back.’ Good Old Navy, put me on an escort carrier going back over, so I got three tours,” Parris said in an interview with WUSA9.

Parris is visiting his grandchildren in Stafford, Va. this weekend, who went with him Saturday to the Korean War Veterans Memorial located in West Potomac Park.

“I always wanted to come back to the memorial. I got an opportunity,” Parris said. “It's just an honor and it's honor to all the people that lost their lives in Korea.”

Tekeita Owens of Quantico, Va. was also visiting the Korean War Veterans Memorial Saturday with her son and daughter. She was moved to tears by the memorial.

“I'm an Air Force veteran,” Owens told WUSA9. “The history of our nation is important to us and the sacrifices that people have made are very important to us.”  

Owens’ daughter Taylor was appreciative for the chance to honor her ancestors and others who died serving their country.

“It’s important to me to come out here, especially the Korean Memorial because my grandfather was also part of the military and he recently passed away,” Taylor said. “It's really nice to remember him.”

To mark the unofficial start of summer, Craig Condella and his two daughters came to the District from Rhode Island this weekend. As a professor of philosophy, Condella told WUSA9 the trip was aimed at being educational for the girls in that it would teach them about the lesson of sacrifice.

The trio planned to visit the World War II Memorial.

“So their great grandfather fought in World War II,” Condella said, as he stood with his daughters. “We're trying to understand as much as we can.”

It was an emotional day in the nation’s capital. Parris, the U.S. Navy veteran, has seen the nation at its best and worst. Ultimately, he’s thankful to have had the opportunity to serve and for those who never made it home.

“Freedom is not free, somebody has to pay the price,” Parris said.

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