SARASOTA, Florida -- Thousands turned out in Sarasota to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice this Memorial Day, but one Marine continues to give back to his community in memory of those who no longer can.
At 28 years old, Juan Jaimes has seen the horrors of war during two tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He's lost friends and saved others. Today, the former Marine sergeant helped lead Sarasota's Memorial Day Parade in their memory.
Jaimes said, "I'm here walking, talking, I'm fine. It's for the people who never made it back to their families, and their families for serving themselves."
Jaimes wears a second uniform after eight years in the Marines. He now serves as a police officer in Sarasota.
Jaimes said, "That way I can help people. I can build a better community for my kids and future generations, to be able to grow up in a safe environment."
Jaimes knows first-hand the value of freedom. Sarasota is his second home. He was born in Venezuela, and he and his family fled to the U.S. when Jaimes was 12 years old.
He said, "The fact I was given a chance to come here, I wanted to give something back to the community, to this country, for allowing me to be here, building a good life, a better life, for me and my family."
The veteran turned police officer hopes Americans value the lives they have. He said, "Sit back and think of all the freedom you have, just the freedom to walk around in a safe environment. People in other countries don't have that."
As Jaimes walked down Main Street, he was humbled by the many veterans he saw saluting him. He said, "They sacrifice 30-40 years ago for me to have the freedoms I have now, for me to be able to do it for future generations. It makes me feel great."
Veterans young and old hope days like today will inspire young Americans to one day protect the freedom they enjoy.