SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Hundreds of San Diegans spent the morning honoring our fallen heroes by laying thousands of wreaths at Miramar and Fort Rosecrans national cemeteries.

It's part of a national effort to pay tribute during the holiday season to those who fought for our country.

Wreaths Across America has grown to become a very special tradition for not just military families but also for civilians just eager to say thank you.

A somber ceremony for America's fallen soldiers drew more than a thousand patriots at Miramar National Cemetery.

Many who saluted the flag never served but came to lend their ears to their country's veterans.

"I am proud to be a Vietnam vet and my hope is that all of you have pride in your hearts," retired U.S. Marine David Brahms said.

With each wreath handed out everyone in attendance sent a heartfelt thank you that decorates nearly 3,000 headstones over the holidays.

"As you lay one of these beautiful wreaths today on their grave stones, stop for a second and read their name, whisper it out loud, give them a voice for just a moment."

Laura Jackowski came with her daughter as a way to honor the sacrifices made by some people they have never met.

"It's a nice thing to reflect during the holiday time...some people aren't as lucky as us to have their loved ones with them during the holidays," Jackowski said.

For some it was a learning experience - for others it was personal.

"This is our father here that we are celebrating," Becky Izadi said.

For Matthew and Greg Plale their young hearts are heavy so they say laying wreaths is the least they can do.

"I feel thankful for the act of bravery they did, for guarding our country and supporting our freedom," Plale said.

The ceremony received a lot of help from volunteer students from local girls scouts, some schools, and some young military groups.

Each of the nearly 3,000 wreaths will stay by the headstones until Jan. 11th.