East Texas veteran honors fallen heroes with family tradition

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TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Memorial Day comes and goes, but honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice never changes.

“He wouldn’t of wanted to be Master Sargent Nipp, he was Brother Tom,” said Jim Nipp standing over his father’s grave.

Every year, Nipp visits the Tyler Memorial Cemetery to honor and remember the sacrifices people like his father made serving the United States.

“I do think it’s important to keep those memories alive with names and with stories. They hear the same stories every year,” said Nipp.

Walking through the cemetery with his two daughters, this has become a decade long tradition. Even when one of daughters went away for college, she still made time to stop and honor those who have died, every year.

“The meaning, why it’s so important to him, his memories growing up with our granddaddy, and him going and having this experience,” said Katheryn.

Her father, Jim, is a veteran himself, who served in Desert Storm with the United States Air Force.

Looking out at the row of flags lining the inside of the cemetery, he hopes each one will serve as a reminder “for the people who died in war time, died for our freedom, some of which I’ve known in my life. I think we owe them a debt of gratitude.”

His daughters Katheryn and Angel were born just three days apart. Angel, adopted, has found a new meaning for Memorial Day.

“Before I lived with them, I never really took this day as seriously as I do now because now I understand the real meaning of it and what this all means,” explained Angel.

While the meaning behind the day remains the same, this year looks a little different.

Instead of a packed cemetery attracting hundreds from politicians to veterans, Monday’s service went virtual amid COVID-19.

Ogle and Sheriff Larry Smith were guest speakers as the memorial home held a online event.

“While I understand we are in challenging times, and our opponent is significant, and while it is a priority to stay safe during this pandemic, I fear being remembered as the generation who let liberty go,” said guest speaker, Skip Ogle.

Only a few veterans were allowed inside and social distancing signs stood in the corner with everyone staying six feet apart during the ceremony.

Despite the change, the message continues to live on, honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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