SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – The Bay Area’s largest Memorial Day tribute to America’s veterans and service members took place at the San Francisco National Cemetery Monday.

“It’s not easy to accept somebody so close to you who is lost in a war,” said Air Force veteran Samantha Erickson.

Erickson did three tours in Afghanistan. She’s lost six of her friends.

Today, the Presidio Trust hosted the 151st Annual Memorial Day Commemoration to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Early this morning, Boy Scouts placed flowers on the graves of veterans at this National Historic Landmark.

“Freedom is not free and in order to preserve our constitution and democracy, we have to defend that,” said Boy Scout Leader Ken Chin.

Today is a day to honor those who have. In a place known to many as hallowed ground.

“You can kind of connect with military culture and the level of sacrifice that is sometimes abstract in our everyday lives,” said Eric Blind with the Presidio Trust.

And those that know that level of sacrifice personally.

“I’ve actually had a tough time this year accepting that. And getting through the emotions of Memorial Day,” Erickson said.

Today, she takes comfort in the camaraderie.

“Being around other veterans and other people who empathize and sympathize,” said Erickson.

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