San Francisco Presidio holds 149th Memorial Day commemoration ceremony

On this Memorial Day, more than a thousand people gathered in San Francisco's Presidio to honor those who died fighting for their country.

For many it was a sad day, but also a proud one. Some came early to the chilly military cemetery to spend a quiet moment with someone they loved and lost.

One woman' s father is buried here. Arthur Harvey fought in World War II.

"He went to war. It just means a lot that he did that," said his daughter Patti Harvey of Petaluma.

The thoughts of one Vietnam veteran from Marin County he says, are with fellow soldiers who never made it back home.

"I get a sense of, not happiness, but a good feeling when I'm here. It's like a welcome home," said Anton Sousa.

More than 1,500 people gathered to pay tribute to those who fight and died in America's wars.

One mother and father from Santa Rosa lost their son Caesar Viglienzone  when an IED exploded near him in Iraq 11 years ago.

Still they say, Memorial Day does not bring them sadness.

"He was a fine young man. He always looked for his own path. He was really proud of where he was," said Norma Viglienzone, his mother.

"As far as sad, no. This is not sad. We should be looking to remember. And if we don't remember the peope who sacrificed we are lacking something," said Caesar"s father, Dennis Viglienzone.

Speaking to the gathering, a former soldier said he could feel himself slowly dying from a sniper's bullet in Iraq, only to somehow survive.

"Monuments and memorials are a great way to to remember those who came before us. But the most powerful way way to honor their sacrifice is by allowing their spirit to live through us each and every day," said former U.S. Army Capt. Joshua Mantz.

For many, Memorial Day is not a time for backyard barbecues or ball games,  but a day to remember, or say thank you, or even bring children to see the gravestones.

"I think they will better understand what freedom is all about on Memorial Day," said their father Robert Colgin, of Livermore.

"These people served our country. And it s sad we have to live in a country where there is still war," said Patti Harvey.