Many people attended the annual Faces of Freedom Memorial Day ceremony in Atascadero Monday.
All approximately 500 chairs set out for the event were filled.
"It's a day of remembrance, speak their names, honor them," said Marine veteran Tim Haley.
"We are here to celebrate and remember all of the men and women that given their time and some their life for this country,” said Paso Robles resident Dale Sinor.
Haley remembers all the Gold Star families who have lost a child during service.
"If anyone has ever seen the anguish in a mother's eyes, you know what it means to be a Gold Star mother, father, brother, sister,” Haley said, seeing a similar pain from his own mother when he went back to Vietnam.
"After R&R was over, I was getting back on the plane and that was the first time I had ever seen my mother cry,” he said.
Atascadero resident Jason Anderson, who comes to the service every year, says this year was different. With more people in attendance, he felt it brought a greater sense of community.
"It was interesting to see the amount of energy,” he said.
For others, this event holds a special meaning as they remember loved ones who served.
The ceremony included Estrella Warbirds flying overhead and a wreath-laying honoring the memory of Si Tenenberg, a Marine veteran who dedicated his life to sending more than 23,000 care packages to soldiers overseas.
People in attendance say they feel lucky and honored to have this monument in their community to honor local heroes every day.