I was stationed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia when I was in the Army. It's very close to Washington D.C. We took the USO bus into D.C. at every available opportunity to see all the monuments and memorials and eat at the world class 'chow hall' at Fort Meyers (where Arlington National Cemetary is). Watching the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers is one of the most amazing things I have ever witnessed. And there is usually not a dry eye in the stands.
The Viet Nam Wall is also an amazing place. People taking rubbings of the names engraved on the granite panels and leaving all kinds of mementos. Viet Nam was hard on my family. My mother's oldest brother was a Green Beret. He was our larger than life John Wayne guy who jumped out of airplanes at the local county fair with some of his Golden Knight buddies. He fought in Korea and did 3 tours in Viet Nam. Her youngest half brother was killed in Viet Nam. Three of her cousins crossed the border into Canada to avoid the draft. I have my dad's dog tags from the Navy and my mom's dog tags from the Women's Army Corp (WAC) and mine from the good old US Army all on the chain I wore mine on when I served. I was "in" during Panama and one of my friends was killed in Panama over the drug dealer Noriega that our own CIA protected for many years. I was also "in" during the 'first' Iraq war. I am taking my mom to a cemetary about 90 miles from our home to place old mayonnaise jars of lilacs from our yard on her brothers' graves...and those of others from her family. Her cousin will go with us. I'll listen to them talk about the family of their childhood-people that I never met. I'll leave some flowers at my dad's grave on my next trip to the VA hospital at Fort Harrison because that is where he was laid to rest. I will remember. I will honor their memory. I will honor their service. I will decorate the graves. THAT is Memorial Day for me!