Veterans honored in ceremony aboard USS Midway Museum - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Veterans honored in ceremony aboard USS Midway Museum

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - It's Memorial Day weekend and no doubt you probably have something planned with the family. Maybe it's a BBQ or perhaps you're getting out of town.

What's important is we don't forget what this time is really all about. We got a good reminder today, aboard the USS Midway Museum.

The gathering was to honor our greatest generation and front and center we found Al Hansen, a World War II veteran who wanted to enlist so bad he lied about his age.

"It was one of those situations where dad has passed away, mom was a waitress, and she was trying to raise four kids," he said. 

With Hansen in the Navy, his mother would get half his paycheck. Hansen would end up as a gunner on a bomber, and over half a century later he says it's more important than ever to say thank you.

"It's respect for those who have passed away serving our country and it's respect for those who are serving our country now," Hansen said. 

Today, respect came in the form of a wreath. Several were cast overboard to remember those who didn't come back from World War II. Hansen's wreath was for those in the Navy.

"Is young men they left their homes to fight and liberate not only France but the whole of Europe and defend democracy and human rights," said Axel Cruau, France's Consul General. 

Also in attendance was the the French consul general who offered his gratitude for America's role in the invasion of Normandy. The 70th anniversary of D-Day is less than two weeks away.

"You remind us that individuals make a difference in this world when they have a higher sense of duty and citizenship to their country and to the greater good," Cruau said. 

They were individuals like Al Hansen who worries that many are forgetting what Memorial Day means.

"Because we don't teach it anymore in school, it's just so sad."

But someone today gave him hope. That person is Jorge Merino, who's around the age Hansen was when he joined the Navy.

"The veterans and Memorial Day is about thanking them for their service and making them feel appreciated," Merino said. 

He was excited to ask about the ship Hansen was on. But didn't forget the most important part.

"He served our country so he should be thanked," Merino said. 

"I almost started crying. Like I feel right now," Hansen said. 

A reminder of how something so small, can mean everything to someone who gave so much -- so when you see a veteran or someone in uniform, make sure to say thank you.

This is the 10th anniversary of the USS Midway Museum here in San Diego. They've got a whole bunch of events planned this year. If you're interested go to  
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