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Gail Ricketts of Flint sat next to her father’s marker at Great Lakes National Cemetery on Sunday, and soaked in the feeling of being in his presence.

“I always sat next to Dad,” Rickets said of Korean War Army veteran John Westenbarger. “It seems natural to sit here next to him and be in his world.”

Ricketts was among thousands who attended the Memorial Day ceremony at the national cemetery in Holly Township. Located on former farmland bordering Fagan Lake about 50 miles northwest of Detroit, it was a serene setting to remember their loved ones.

“It was beautiful, a little cloudy but the sun was peeking through,” said Maria Hiteshew of Mount Morris, who came to remember her husband, 20-year Navy veteran Barry Hiteshew, who died of cancer in 2014. He was 52.

“The cemetery is so beautiful, peaceful.”

Hiteshew, 56, brought her grandchildren, Jonathon Hiteshew, 10, and 6-year-old Trinity Wells.

“I tell them he loved doing what he could do to help our country,” Hiteshaw said of the conversations she has with her grandchildren. “But I always talk to him.

“I let him know how our daughters are doing and what they’re doing. I let him know everything that’s going on. I definitely let him know how much I miss him and wish he was still here.”

kbouffard@detroitnews.com

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