The pilgrimage, which stops at 16 memorials and sites honoring veterans, wasn't held last year because of the pandemic.By Chris Hoffman

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Monday marked the unofficial start to summer. Community members, veterans and local leaders gathered to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Taps echoed off buildings from East Carson Street to the Birmingham Bridge.

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“We do it in honor of those who can’t be here anymore,” Curtis Schmitt with the American Legion Post 725 said.

Those 24 notes speak volumes on Memorial Day.

“It means everything to us. We want to keep the tradition alive and going,” Schmitt said before the journey around the South Side.

Veterans, community members and local leaders made a pilgrimage around the South Side to 16 memorials and sites honoring veterans.

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“It’s good to still honor these veterans who have helped us get the freedom we so much enjoy,” Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said.

The tradition of going around the neighborhood goes back decades, but it had to take a pause last year because of the pandemic.

“I can’t give you the words. I missed all the fellows in the organization. I missed celebrating like we always do every year,” Vietnam veteran Jerry Mellix said.

“I really missed it last year and I’m sure a lot of people did, so it’s good to be here again,” Vietnam veteran Jim Wrzesinski told KDKA.

One of the biggest stops was at the South Side Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Dozens gathered and poured into the streets to pay their respects.

“I’m just happy to be able to be a part of this,” Mellix said after remembering his fellow service members.

“They gave us their legacy as we hope to pass our legacy on to the next generation coming up behind us,” Schmitt said.

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The pilgrimage ended at the South Side Cemetery with a program that lasted about an hour. It made sure those who made the ultimate sacrifice are not forgotten.