LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- As the sun rose Monday on Memorial Day, families, friends and loved ones gathered for a special ceremony to honor soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice.
"Memorial Day isn't 'Happy Memorial Day,'" said Laura Herzog, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Honoring Our Fallen. "Memorial Day is a day to pause, reflect and remember the sacrifices of those that signed that blank check."
After the special bagpipe tribute, service members joined to read the names of the fallen American heroes. For two mothers who were present, the moment was bittersweet.
"Of course I love that his name is said, so he will always be remembered and never forgotten," said Lupita Garcia, whose son passed away. "But I hate that the purpose of it, that reminds me he's no longer here."
"It's hard but it keeps them alive," said Aleta Bath, another mother who was present at the ceremony to honor her son's memory. "It's meaningful. It means a lot. It makes you feel like they're not forgotten, like they didn't die in vain. "
The ceremony, which took place on front of the Honoring Our Fallen Memorial wall at Rosie the Riveter Park, included the readings of names of American heroes who have fallen in combat, in training exercises and in humanitarian efforts since September 11, 2001.
"Behind every name, there's a family," said Herzog. "So we just wanted a place where they're not forgotten."