If the truth be known, I had no idea what Memorial Day was about because, until today, I had never been and experienced it. Having said that, I was aware of Memorial Day because many of my Donkey Week friends travel great distances to be here.
I've only been a member of staff for a year now, so this has been the first time I have attended Memorial Day. I chose to go along as a member of staff because the Sanctuary is a big part of who I am and wearing my Donkey Sanctuary uniform gives me a great sense of pride.
Before making my way to the marquee where the service was being held, I placed a bunch of red roses alongside two memorial plaques that a good friend of mine had asked me to do as she wan't able to come down this year.
There were colourful flower arrangements alongside many memorial plaques as well as single red roses laid in memory of loved ones.
Inside the marquee, people were beginning to take their seats for the service. At the front sat our founder, Dr Elisabeth Svendsen (Dr S), along with other members of staff and longstanding supporters.
The service started with a welcome speech from our Chief Executive, David Cook, followed by a brief update by Paul Svendsen on the Sanctuary work overseas.
Dr S then gave a moving speech in which she mentioned two people she had admired in her life. The first was Sven Svendsen, her ex-father-in-law, who was born in 1904. Later in his life Dr S used to go and visit him every Saturday when he lived in Exeter. Sadly, Sven passed away earlier this year aged 104.
The other person Dr S admired was then introduced - the Reverend Peter Leverton. 'Rev Lev' (as he is known) led the service and the theme I picked up on throughout his speech was "do animals have feelings?".
During the service I was surprised by my own emotions. I found myself remembering all the animals who have shared my life and I had to wipe a few tears from my eyes.
Rev Lev finished with a story about a donkey called Lisa who lives here at the Sanctuary and asked: "Does a donkey ever forget?" Her owner used to give her polos as a treat, but only after 'asking' for one (she used to paw the ground). After not seeing Lisa for two years, her owner wondered if she would still remember when she came to visit ... she did!
I knew there would be tears as the Rev Lev read this because Lisa's owner was with us today.