The emotion-laden notes of “Taps” fill the air as Joe Ostenson plays his bugle outside the mausoleum. Ostenson’s father served in the U.S. Army during WWII and also played the bugle. “I play this for my dad,” said Ostenson, the poignant refrain of the sombre tune lingering above the heavy silence of Hollister’s Calvary Cemetery.
“Right now across the country at more than 1200 memorial sites like this one, people are gathered as one nation to remember, honor and teach,” began Juli A. Vieira, president of the San Benito County Chamber of Commerce. Called Wreaths across America, the memorial service takes place every year on December 16. Wreaths are laid on the graves of soldiers who have died and their names read out loud, one-by-one.
“Freedoms we enjoy today did not come without a price,” continued Vieira. “Lying here before us and in cemeteries throughout this nation are men and women who gave their lives so that we could live in freedom without fear.”
Each member of the Hollister VFW Post 9242 honor guard stood up to receive a wreath bedecked in a red ribbon, one for each of the branches of the U.S. armed services. The wreaths were then laid outside in stands along the headstones. Volunteers, family members and loved ones walked among the gravestones.
“Thank you to those who gave their lives to keep us free,” said Vieira. “We shall not forget you, we shall remember.”