BUSHNELL, SUMTER COUNTY, Fla. — Thousands of people came out to the Florida National Cemetery this Memorial Day to remember the brave men and women who lost their lives protecting our freedom.

  • Ceremony featured 400 flags lining pathways around cemetery
  • Flags donated by families of deceased veterans
  • More Tampa-area stories

Amid the pomp and circumstance of the formal ceremony Monday sat more modest, makeshift memorials for the fallen.

One was created by Denia Rojas and her family. 

They make the trip from Georgia to the cemetery each year to honor Rojas’s son Kenny, who lost his life in 2005 while serving in Iraq at just 21 years old. 

“It was his first deployment. I think he left January 7," Rojas said. "He went and came back for two weeks in August and when he went back in October is when he got killed."

“He was easy going, he used to smile a lot," she continued. "He loved music, he liked to play the guitar. He was a very happy young man."

She said it’s important for them to come here each year to honor her son as well as the thousands of others laid to rest here and ensure their memories are never forgotten. 

“I feel very proud of him and all of the rest of the soldiers that gave their lives for the freedom of our country,” Rojas explained. 

Monday’s ceremony also featured 400 flags that lined the roadways in the cemetery. They were donated by the families of deceased veterans.