CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - As families across the country observe Memorial Day, for many it’s a somber day full of reflection and remembrance.
“This holiday is probably the single most important holiday known to the free world,” Gold Star family member Gregg Pyle said.
“If it wasn’t for men and women willing to lay down their lives to protect our freedoms and everything, we wouldn’t be here. I think it’s important that we never forget," Pyle said. "I will never forget. It’s almost been 50 years but still it never gets easier. You just learn how to cope.”
Pyle’s brother, Howard Pyle Jr., was in the Army and killed in 1969 while he was serving in South Vietnam.
“He’s my idol. He’s my hero,” Pyle said. “The last time I laid eyes on him he was waiting at the school bus when I got home from school in his uniform. He refused to change into civilian clothes until he met me at the bus stop, and there he was standing at attention when I got off the bus. I’ll never forget that. That’s my last memory of him alive.”
Pyle works to keep his memory alive by leaving his brother’s picture on the Gold Star Family Memorial at Patriots Point every year for the anniversary of his death and for Memorial Day.
On Monday, those who came to visit the memorial also took a moment to study Pyle’s picture.
“I want to make sure people remember what this holiday is about and the sacrifice they made and I’m not the only family,” Pyle said. “South Carolina has lost a lot of sons and daughters in combat in all different wars. It’s never an easy thing that’s for sure, but it’s a necessary thing.”
Pyle said he spends his Memorial Day trying to help others remember what the day is for, and to keep memories alive.
“I usually come here and go to the Medal of Honor Museum and spend the day remembering and dedicating,” Pyle said. "I made a commitment to God, and they’ll never be forgotten. All of them. “