SHARPSBURG, Md. (DC News Now) — Memorial Day observance started early in Hagerstown with a wreath-laying ceremony. A short drive south, at the Antietam National Battlefield Cemetery, veterans were honored at this legacy landmark.

At the battlefield cemetery, David Berns spent more than three decades in the Army. He said feels a strong connection to colleagues who served.

“I was close to lots who served during the Vietnam, others who were in Iraq and Afghanistan,” says Berns. “So I’m just here to honor those folks and also the folks of the Civil War.”

Troy Cool lives on a property by the Antietam Battlefield that served as a hospital during the bloody battle of Antietam.

“They consolidated all the wounded that could not be evacuated from the battlefield that served as a hospital during the bloody battle of Antietam,” Cool says. “Unfortunately most of the people that stayed at our farm stayed there the rest of their lives and passed away between the day of the battle and January, February of 1863.”

Jeff Cline is a Washington County commissioner who makes veterans’ concerns a priority, Memorial Day holds a special significance for him.

“Defending our freedom from our early revolutionary war heroes to the Civil War soldiers to our present-day soldiers — that’s what Memorial Day is all about,” says Cline.

Like Cline, for David Berns, this day is a special occasion to nurture bonds with military colleagues.

“It’s camaraderie, the closeness of the relationships,” says Berns. “I mean, they never go away.”

Taps for today’s ceremony were performed by the 167th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia Air National Guard.