The air was crisp but the sun managed to shine on the individuals, families, servicemen and women and support groups who shared a moment to honor the sacrifice made by members of the armed forces. The event was jointly sponsored by the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery Support Committee and the Anne Loucks Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.
The event was part of the Wreaths Across America campaign which began nearly 20 years ago when 5,000 wreaths were laid at Arlington National Cemetery.
Numerous guest speakers expressed their gratitude toward the nation's military men and women and the sacrifice they made.
"We are gathered here today to remember that we are a nation under one flag," said Nancy B. Alexander, vice president general of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. "We thank those who gave their lives to keep us free and we will not forget you."
At the program's midpoint, the spotlight was placed on the cemeteryflagpole where special wreaths were placed at its base. The wreaths honored each branch of service, including the U.S. Merchant Marine, soldiers taken prisoner or missing in action and patriot ancestors.
Echoing the theme of sacrifice, Supervisor Mike Reagan, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, said, "We are all gathered here today because you recognize that the freedoms you've come to enjoy do not come without a price. ...The sacrifices made by the individuals fighting, those who have fought, and their families, are enormous and should never be taken for granted."
As Taps echoed in the distance, relatives of those buried at the cemetery began to lay the boughs of greenery at the burial plots, followed by others. Organizers said this is the largest turnout for an event at the cemetery and that 3,700 grave sites would be decorated by day's end.
Seven-year-olds Matthew Montgomery and his best friend, Austin Bunting, laid a wreath together at a headstone.
"My husband and I want our boys to understand why we have these freedoms and why this country is so great," said Natasha Montgomery. Her husband, Mike, served with the 82nd Airborne division of the U.S. Army. Her 12-year-old son, Alan, was providing assistance at the event with the Civil Air Patrol and has dreams of becoming a pilot.
"I just like the military and all that they do for us," said Matthew. "They keep us safe, and we're wishing them a Merry Christmas too."