Linda Shellhammer knelt at her late husband’s simple white gravestone Monday morning, planted a kiss on the top of the marker, and then sighed deeply. Her husband, a World War 2 veteran, died at the age of 86 in December 2010. For a veteran’s wife, Memorial Day is never easy.
"It's a sad day, but yet it's a very proud day,” Mrs. Shellhammer said.
"He just loved life,” she said of her husband, who she was married to for 35 years. “He'd seen the worst and wanted to see the best."
Ira Dale Shellhammer was a mine sweeper during the war and was injured in Okinawa.
"They told him he would never walk again and he was just determined, yes I am and he did."
Scenes like that of the Shellhammer family’s remembrance were happening all across the Camp Nelson National Cemetery Monday, a burial ground created in the aftermath of the Civil War. It’s now the scene of the largest Memorial Day ceremony in central Kentucky.
Donna Lightfoot and her husband, Raymond, sat in front of her father’s grave maker, making the words etched into the white stone darker.
Stewart Wells Jr. died in 2001. He lost a let in Vietnam and was awarded the Purple Heart.
"I want to be able to see his name you know,” Mrs. Lightfoot said. “I want to be able and see his name when I come so that's why I do this."