LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It's important to pay tribute to every serviceman and woman who lost their lives in the line of duty and on Memorial Day, it's what the Patriots Peace Memorial is all about.
Three members of the U.S. Armed Forces, all with Kentucky connections, died while serving their country in circumstances other than hostile action. The service on River Road made sure that they, too, will be remembered.
"One point three million servicemen and women who have died in the defense of this country," U.S. Coast Guard Commanding Officer, Ohio Valley Sector, Captain Michael B. Zamperini, told the crowd.
Among them, three who also stood watch. Their names are now part of the Patriots Peace Memorial. The tribute means everything to their families.
"We have a place to come to see his name," said Laura Hopkins, mother of one of the three being remembered, said. The body of Navy Lieutenant Commander Steven David Hopkins was never recovered. In August 2017, the 30-year-old husband and father, remembered for his sense of humor, was serving on a guided-missile destroyer when he was swept overboard in the South China Sea. The honor overwhelmed his parents, Laura and Lyle Hopkins.
"I'm so proud of him," she said. "There are not enough words, not enough words."
For the young family of Louisvillian James Albert Page, 42, the loss is still fresh. In 2013, the 101st Airborne Division Army captain and historian suffered a heart attack while on active duty.
"It's really nice and I'll never forget it," his mother said.
Also, U.S Coast Guard Surfman John Albert Munz, who died in 1916 while trying to rescue two boaters swept over the Falls of the Ohio, was remembered more than a century after his heroic act.
"John resurfaced, and they were coming to get him and he pointed to another member of the crew first, and then John went under the water," said his great grandson, Bruce Meyer. Meyer also said all the new information about his great grandfather helped him learn about his family history.
"I'm tremendously proud because as a child growing up, I was simply told that my grandfather lost his life trying to save a couple of guys, a couple fishermen, and there was no extensive detail added to that whatsoever, even though I knew my grandmother -- not as my grandmother -- just as a family member called mama Lil," he said. "She never told the story either."
After his death, people living in Louisville, Jeffersonville and New Albany rallied to support Munz's widow and three children raising enough money for a home for them. Family members of all three servicemen said they can't wait to come back and invite other friends and family, to see their loved ones' glass name plates once they are installed in the memorial.
Watch the event below: