For Marine Corps Lt. Col. David Cooper, this day has added meaning. As a veteran of Kosovo, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, he has seen more than his share of wartime strife.
"It personalizes it. It's not just those who have died," said Cooper, who served as Master of Ceremonies of the Memorial Day program. "For me, it's David (Nairn)... it's faces."
Cooper talked about David Nairn, a lieutenant with whom he was fairly close, who died in battle in Beirut in 1983. But Nairn was not the only face Cooper recalled. Other close friends died fighting for their country in Desert Storm and Afghanistan.
Cooper knows the meaning of the day on a personal level - time to reflect and give thanks for those who put their lives on the line for America.
He said that this was a time to remember those who put "service above self."
The program, organized by the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10789 and its Ladies Auxiliary, tried to give a view of Memorial Day by intertwining a variety of speakers with a musical program performed by Liberty High students.
One such speaker was VFW essay winner and Freedom High senior Nathan Lallas. Nathan read his award-winning essay, "How I Demonstrate My Democracy," aloud to those in attendance.
Even though he's a seasoned member of the school's speech and debate club, Lallas could not help but get a little choked up when talking about the brave men and women who gave their lives for this country.
"It showed me that (freedom) is not just a given," said Lallas. "It's not free. You have to look at what was given up so that I can have a better life, and things that I'll have to give up so people behind me can have a better life."
The ceremony also featured a speech from Captain William Uberti of the Coast Guard, who talked about the importance of pride for the United States.
Congressman Richard Pombo spoke about the meaning that Memorial Day carries, and how it often gets lost in barbecues and other leisure activities.
One of the more touching parts of the ceremony was when roses were presented by Boy Scouts to those in attendance who have lost loved ones in battle. Gary Gillespie, visiting from Seattle, was one of the recipients who felt the true significance of the day.
Gillespie's father, Gene, served in World War II and died not long ago at the age of 78. Gillespie's father-in-law, Brentwood native Robin Williams, also fought in that war and died shortly before September 11.
"Freedom isn't free. I really believe that now, after 9/11, the concept of a free country isn't something we can take for granted," Gillespie said. "We have a unique place in world history, and I think that's definitely worth fighting for."
In a fitting closing remembrance for those who gave their life in the line of duty, the Liberty choir sang "Wind Beneath My Wings."