An inaugural ceremony for Wreaths Across America was held at Freedom Plaza in downtown Tehachapi Friday night. Local veterans were joined by a small gathering of citizens to honor seven fallen heroes representing each branch of the military memorialized at Freedom Plaza by laying wreaths at the foot of each acrylic monument.

"I thought we should honor our veterans where we have a plaza that honors veterans," said coordinator Jim Jacobs (U.S. Army, 1972-75), who made an opening statement by quoting President Ronald Reagan:

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same, or one day, we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."

Following the presentation of the colors and a prayer by Pastor Michael Clark of A City on a Hill Church, guest speaker Jason Stanley, retired Navy senior chief, addressed the crowd.

"The biggest impact in my life from the time that I served, was that I realized that the reason that I served, the reason that we served, the reason that we have America, is for the people," said Stanley. "Everything that we do is for someone else."

Stanley said that when he looks at Wreaths Across America, he sees an opportunity to recognize those who went before us by remembering them.

"So that memorial is important," Stanley said.

After the placement of the wreaths by volunteer members of the military, Marine Corps veteran Richard Oldenburg played taps on the bugle followed by a performance by the Tehachapi High School Choir.

"Without the donations from the community, this could not be possible," Jacobs said.

A second ceremony was held the following day at Westside and Eastside cemeteries, where an additional 677 wreaths were placed on the gravesites of veterans.