Retired Marine begins new Memorial Day tradition in Mountain Top

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WRIGHT TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Millions across the nation gathered to pay respects to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty and beyond.

Many ceremonies were underway in the morning, but Mountain Top held something special as the sun went down. A large gathering at Albert Cemetery in Wright Township flooded with American flags and visitors.

“Memorial Day is about showing respect to the soldiers that gave their lives for us,” Mark Randall of Mountain Top said.

Many like Randall visiting fallen friends and family.

“My father was in Vietnam so I’m showing respect. He was in the Air Force. He did come home but he passed away about 30 years ago from a heart attack,” Randall said.

Others returning after a long absence, saluting all brothers and sisters. As people come and go to pay their respects in cemeteries across the nation throughout Memorial Day, it’s that key moment, 24 notes, that really hits home.

Retired gunnery sergeant Jay Thomas made a heartfelt return after spending years away — an established career in the Marine Corps.

“Part of my main duty was funerals. When you start playing, you kind of detach from the feeling and just get into the honor,” Thomas said.

20 years as ‘the few, the proud’, Thomas is also a rare breed as a real bugler. A performance in his old hometown and a patriotic audience.

“This was just going to be me and my family coming out and my wife kind of said ‘you need to make this something. The community needs something like this’,” Thomas said.

Crestwood High grad, United States Marine and a hero to family and community. Thomas looks to play Taps at twilight on Memorial Day every year back home.

“It will be nice to start that and give back,” Thomas said.

Thomas also participated in Taps Across America, joining more than 4,000 buglers across the nation earlier Monday, playing at national monuments, cemeteries, and even porches for all to hear.

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