RIVERSIDE, Calif. - There was a sea of flags and a sea of faces at the Riverside National Cemetery. The rumble of a motorcycle honor guard and the hum of a World War I era plane could be heard over the throngs of cars that pulled into the windy lanes.
But huddled among the rolling hills of graves we found the Miranda family. They were crowded around the gravestone of Richard Robert Miranda, a Korean War veteran who served in both the Army and Marines. This is their first Memorial Day without the family patriarch who died this past October at the age of 91.
"He was very patriotic all his life until he left," said son Ronald Miranda. "At the age of 16 he decided to go into the military."
They tell us each and every Memorial Day he remembered the troops who never made it back from the battlefield.
"He would buy 200 flags, sometimes 300 flags, and he’d go to different cemeteries," said Melissa Niño. "And look for veterans that had been forgotten."
That’s why they say he wanted to be buried at the national cemetery with others who served. His son says he wants to be buried here as well.
"It’s an honor," Ronald Miranda said. "I made my decision at 17 to go in." He explains his grandmother served in WWII and now his niece is the newest the one in the family to serve. They say they are a family who understands this day more than most. They are proud of Miranda’s service and say on this holiday they value and honor those who got their gravestone far too young.
"These soldiers men and women that fought for our freedom," Niño said, "need to be really respected and honored and thanked every single day."