FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – Veterans from every branch across multiple wars came to Veterans Memorial Park to share their own stories and remember the friends that they lost while serving their country.

Lauderdale County and the City of Florence hosted their annual Memorial Day ceremony in Florence on Monday, May 29.

The ceremony included the traditional playing of “Taps” and the laying of the wreath. City officials and veterans were invited to share their stories.

One of the veterans in the audience was Herschiel Allen, an Army veteran who was drafted to fight in the Vietnam War when he was 18 years old. Allen told News 19 that he also had four classmates who were drafted and that one was killed in the line of duty.

“I had a lot of friends died in Vietnam, and so I think that it’s my honor to come out and celebrate this,” Allen said. “My life was on the line, but I just happened to luck out and made it.”

Mary Day Smith, another Army veteran, told News 19 that people often forget that Memorial Day is to celebrate the lives of all veterans who have died, both past and present.

“We’ve had several here from Lauderdale county and the Florence area that have lost their lives in the war on terrorism,” Smith said. “It goes all the way back, of course, to World War I, but for us younger veterans, it’s the now.”