As the country comes together to commemorate Memorial Day, the Bakersfield community once again showed their support for our troops. One of the many events held Monday was at the historic Union Cemetery where community members and leaders gathered to honor and remember those killed in combat.
Each of the flags around the cemetery was placed by community volunteers. But for many who have been trickling in throughout the day and those who attended the ceremony Monday morning, the flags represent fathers, mothers cousins. But on this Memorial Day, they are remembered by all.
"My grandfather served in the military, and I always like to remember his memory, so I come out and pay tribute to all those who served," said Rodrick Holquin.
Holquin comes out to the cemetery every Memorial Day with flowers in hand to honor a grandfather he has never met. Despite that, he says he is proud of him and all he did for this country. It is a pride shared by many on this day.
"It is very neat to see how we as a community come out to remember those and you see all these fields of flags," said Union Cemetery trustee Dick Taylor.
Taylor says events like these help educate the younger generation about never forgetting those who gave their lives fighting for the country.
After prayer, there was a presentation of colors by the Bakersfield U.S. Naval Sea Cadets and Sons of the American Revolution.
"Three of the four of the color guard today are high school seniors and when I watched the color guard come down and I watched some of the other musicians stand up from their seats and put their hands over their hearts it was really nice to see," continued Taylor.
The music to honor this day did not fall short with the West High School Viking band and Veterans' Family Band playing throughout the ceremony which began with a prayer and presentation of colors followed by the national anthem and flag salute.
For some like Sally Gurrola, they have years coming to events like these.
"My grandfather was a prisoner of war in WW2 and this day has always meant something and just the ultimate sacrifice that all ranks in the military do for our country."
Gurrola says it is almost a ritual now to go to a ceremony, think about her family members in the military and then go home and watch movies based on the military. Adding it is a good day to reflect.
For others, the traditions are just starting.
Richard Rogers has not attended Memorial Day ceremonies before this one and says although having a barbecue or taking a trip is custom this weekend, people should take some time to honor the fallen. That is what he did Monday, walking around the graves after the ceremony and learning a bit more about those buried here.
"It is a good time that we should all come out and honor the people who served the country and gave the ultimate sacrifice for us to enjoy the freedoms we have."
And from young to older generations people reflected on the true meaning of today.
"Memorial Day weekend, at least in my lifetime, has been looked at as a time to travel a long weekend. I think if you could take some time, on Monday, Memorial Day, to attend a service like this, to serve or volunteer, that is a way to pay that back," said Rogers.
Some of the speakers echoed Rogers’ words, reciting poems and sharing about the lives of those who are buried at the cemetery.
Keynote speaker Lt. Christopher Campbell puts the meaning of this day into words: "I remember those who represent the very best of us and the United States. I remember those who faced the most horrific things imaginable on our behalf and I think that is why our country has established this holiday"
As we remember those who did not make it home, the keynote speaker also pointed to the mental wounds that those who did return still carry and the importance of checking in on them as well.