SAN DIEGO - Nearly 2,000 people at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery on Saturday joined thousands across the nation to honor fallen veterans.
Saturday's Wreaths Across America ceremony was part of a larger effort seen across the nation at military cemeteries, such as Arlington, as wreaths were placed on the gravesites of fallen heroes.
"It's quite an honor to live in this great America and so those who've protected it and given it, handed it down to us, we must remember and not forget," said retired Army Lt. Gen. Mick Kicklighter.
He says Saturday ceremony at Fort Rosecrans was one of the most emotional he has ever witnessed.
"I've seen a lot of ceremonies in my lifetime," he said.
In part, he says, because of this: the laying of a wreath by a Merchant Marine who served in the South Pacific and Mediterranean during World War II.
"The Merchant Marines probably had some of the heaviest losses in World War II and what an honor to see two World War II veterans lay that wreath from the Merchant Marines … what a great generation," said Kicklighter.
Following the ceremony, wreaths were placed on the gravesites of more than 3,000 veterans. One of them was placed by retired Marine Maj. Nico Marcolongo.
"To honor my good buddy Maj. Ramon Mendoza, United States Marine Corps., who died Nov. 14, 2005 in Iraq," he said.
It was a simple gesture by many to make sure those who made the ultimate sacrifice – fighting to keep our nation free – are never forgotten.
Wreaths Across America also honors those who are currently serving and their families.