COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL)— Today, May 30, 2022, the nation is reminded of the sacrifice our soldiers have made to protect our freedom.

The National Infantry Museum held a Memorial Day Tribute and Paver Dedication Ceremony this Memorial Day, to pay homage to the soldiers that have gone before us.

National Infantry Museum Foundation’s Vice President of Operations, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Martin Celestine explains in more detail the importance of the Memorial Day Tribute.

It gives family members a chance to reflect, give them a chance to pay homage to honor those that have gone before us, some who have made the ultimate sacrifice or, not to be confused with Veterans Day, but it really gives us a time to thank those that paved the way, that help us keep our lineage and our history intact,” Celestine says.

170 pavers, two benches in the Global War on Terrorism, and two memorial Walk of Honor trees were all dedicated.

“The Paver Dedication, the Monument and Department section here, we have dedicated over 9,000 pavers to different soldiers past, present, and future. And we’ve also dedicated a few trees and benches in their memories located on our memorial walk directly to your rear. So it’s really about highlighting and preserving someone’s lineage and history, it’s really a place to remember,” Celestine adds.

About 200 people attended, including Fort Benning’s Commander, Maj. Gen. Patrick Donahoe, other service men and women, and the families and friends of soldiers who have served or are currently serving. One mother of a fallen veteran was also in attendance, she shared her gratitude of today’s events.

“I was able to pay tribute to the fallen, my son’s unit. He fought in Afghanistan with five guys who were on your wall here. And I was able to see their names, and I was able to thank God for them. And on behalf of my son who couldn’t be here today, So to the museum, I say thank you and keep doing what you are doing. It is incredibly meaningful for people like us. So thank you,” Christian Taylor says.

Taylor was joined by Dany Patrix Boucherie, and her daughter Flo Boucherie. Patrix is a D-Day survivor.

“She survived. So, she remembers D-Day. She remembers the GI’s from the Fourth Infantry Division coming off the beaches of Normandy. Her mother and father helped the GIs, her father fixed a flat tire, he was paid by an American flag. Her mother helped the soldiers who were wounded, and they showed them where the Germans were in the bell tower of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont,” Taylor says.

Patrix was just five years old when American troops stormed the beaches of Normandy. Speaking through her translator and daughter Flo Boucherie, Patrix says it is a day that she will remember forever.

“In Normandy, we never forget all the GI’s who came in 1944 to liberate the people in Normandy… that’s forever,” Patrix says. “Thank you all veterans for many, many things.”

The Boucherie family says June 6th is an important day for people in Normandy to celebrate the American units who liberated them, including the 101st and the 82nd Airborne and the 90th Infantry Division. Boucherie says she hopes younger generations will remember these memories, and celebrate those who made their freedom possible as well.

“We hope that the memory will go on with the young generation, that’s very important and I would hope the same here in United States. That’s very important to never forget.”