Services and parades honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Honoring the Fallen in WNY

May 27, 2013 Updated May 27, 2013 at 11:52 PM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

May 27, 2013 Updated May 27, 2013 at 11:52 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - Western New Yorkers and beyond gathered at memorial sites, cemeteries and other areas to remember the fallen.

Many mourners went to Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, where people reflected on the countless people no longer with us.

Another ceremony introduced a monument to serve as a permanent place to remember some of Erie County's fallen heroes.

Names of Erie County service members killed or missing in Vietnam are now forever etched into a Vietnam Memorial Wall at Sprague Brook Park in Glenwood.

"If you touch it, you almost feel close to that person again," says Karen Murrett, who lost her brother in Vietnam.

Family, friends and veterans gathered for the dedication of the wall, feeling a little closer to loved ones gone.

"They served our country, and we should honor them," says Murrett. "We should make this a country that they would be proud to have served for."

Across Western New York, people at parades also remembered those who served.

"Honoring our war dead, and the people who have made the sacrifice to live the way we do today," said John Mecca.

Also honored -- those still putting their lives on the line for our country.

However, these crowd-pleasing events that draw thousands of people have another focus this year.

"We have a little bit more of an aggressive approach to safety this year, taking into consideration events that have occurred in the world," says Town of Tonawanda Police Lt. Nick Bado.

Even plain-clothes SWAT team members checked the streets.

However, that will not take away from the meaning of Memorial Day.

Even in Washington, DC, Western New Yorkers honored the special day.

91-year-old James Van Splunder of Westfield was awarded five medals on Memorial Day, for his service as a merchant marine on cargo ships targeted by Germans.