Iliana and Ricardo Jaime sat under the shade of a large tree, near the back of a field of headstones with flags planted by them. They sat near their son, Jesse Jaime, a Marine who was killed in Iraq in 2005; he was 22.
“As time goes by, it doesn’t make it any easier,” Iliana said Monday, wearing a shirt with her son’s portrait on it. “Nothing has changed; we come here at least twice a month, not just on this special day.”
They were among the hundreds of family members and friends who gathered on Memorial Day at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City.
Iliana recalled when she and Ricardo heard the knock on their door and found out that their son, who was born and raised in Henderson, had been killed.
“I was speechless,” she said.
Jesse’s twin brother, Joel, also a Marine, stopped by his brother’s grave on Monday, too.
“Freedom does not come free,” Iliana said, explaining what she hopes people remember on Memorial Day. “Any guys you see in a uniform, you should thank them because that is how we get our freedom. Just to remember never to forget.”
A few feet away, Ginger Gilbride, 20, sat at her grandfather’s grave, tears falling down her cheeks.
Her grandfather, William Gilbride, was in the Army and fought in the Korean War before returning to Las Vegas to have a family.
Ginger placed four quarters on the corners of her grandfather’s headstone. She said he used to give her quarters every time he used a curse word. Her other fond memories were of swimming with him and learning to play cards.
Among those gathered at the cemetery was Henderson Municipal Court Judge Mark Stevens. He gave the keynote speech during a ceremony in the cemetery chapel hosted by the Nevada Department of Veterans Services.
“Memorial Day is not just an excuse to have a long weekend, barbecues or watch sporting events,” Stevens said. “It’s a time to reflect on the extreme cost of war and the service members whose lives were lost.”
In the audience, Sherri Busch wore a shirt with photos of her son, Andrew Riedel, a Marine.
Riedel was one of several Marines killed in Iraq when a car bomb exploded near Fallujah in 2004. He was 19.
“I think the knock at the door is the hardest for every gold star parent,” Busch said. “Of course I fell to my knees and said, ‘No, no, no.’”
Busch said her son would have enjoyed the barbecues and everything else that people enjoy over Memorial Day weekend. But, she added, “My message would be to encourage each and every person to find one service member who has died in a war and learn about that person, because that is what this day is for. We have days for veterans and those who are still alive, but this day is for those who have sacrificed.”
A previous version of this story misspelled Sherri Busch’s name.