"It's been hard. Every day you have to wake up - especially for my parents, it's tough to wake up every day and realize Mike is gone and he's not coming back," Licalzi.
Second Lieutenant Michael Licalzi was commanding a troop of Marines in Iraq. Their tank crossed over a bridge, when that bridge crumbled beneath them. Licalzi and three others drowned in the water below.
In his hometown of Garden City today, they unveiled special plaques memorializing Licalzi and other native sons killed in action overseas.
Stephen Labate remembered a good friend named Jimmy Naughton, an Army reservist and NYPD officer killed by an Iraqi sniper.
"You could have been walking to a dining facility or perhaps just driving down a road, one minute you're there, the next minute you're not. That was something that I didn't expect, but it was actually reality," Labate said.
For him and thousands like him, Memorial Day is not about shopping or barbecues. It's a solemn reminder, never to forget.
"It's nice to have a day to remember Mike and have everybody around us remember Mike and know what he did for us," Licalzi said.