Relatives mark Memorial Day at South Florida National Cemetery
LAKE WORTH, Fla. - Theresa Panno came to the South Florida National Cemetery wearing her father's cap.
"I was a daddy's girl," she said.
On her shirt, decorations he earned as an Army Sergeant: a purple heart and a bronze star.
"He's my hero," said Panno.
Sgt. Gabriel Greggs earned them in Korea.
"With metal shrapnel in his legs, a bullet wound in his back, he rushed in to save his platoon. He rushed in and gathered them. Those wounded, he carried them out," said Panno.
Sgt. Greggs was humble.
He rarely spoke of his service.
Even some family members didn't know of his heroics until he died three years ago.
"He had this old thing, Ol Smiley, and everyone called him Ol Smiley and he called everyone Ol Smiley, he probably didn't talk about it because of the horror and the sad things he had seen," said Panno.
Panno laid flowers, prayed and filled in her daddy on the St. Louis Cardinals.
"To me he's not gone, I still talk to him as if he's here," said Panno.
Thousands of service members are coming back from the wars of today.
Like her father's time, an entire generation will be colored by painful experiences.
"War is a terrible thing," said Panno."They're not going in to serve just for something to do or gain something out of it. They're going in to help others."
But Memorial Day isn't just for marking sacrifice.
Servicemembers helped build a nation.
They also built families.
"He is what made me smile," said Panno. "He brought laughter and joy and strength."
Theresa left a message for her father this Memorial Day. The stems of fresh cut flowers, spelling, "Luv U."