"Although Memorial Day weekend is often connected with cookouts, swimming, and time off work, its true significance is much deeper."

"Tammy McLaughlin, a Gold Star spouse and director of Mercer County Veterans Affairs, views Memorial Day as a tribute to her late husband's ultimate sacrifice."

"It was just part of who he was," Tammy explained. "His father served in the Army in Germany, and Mike was actually born in Munich."

"Mike launched his military career as an ROTC cadet and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in January 2005."

"Memorial Day now holds a deeply personal significance for Tammy and her two daughters."

"I want people to realize that while veterans appreciate being thanked, the real essence of Memorial Day..."

"It's restoring my sense of purpose, demonstrating that one can still find belonging in something they never thought attainable," she expressed.