KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — It was a morning of prayer, reflection and remembrance as the Knoxville National Cemetery hosted a special tribute for Memorial Day.

“I hope that everybody is enjoying their Memorial Day today, but I hope they stop and pay a moment of silence and remember how they got that freedom to do what they’re doing today,” said Brian Peterson, Administrative Officer for Knoxville National Cemetery.

Taps was played during the ceremony and a U.S. Airforce Veteran laid a wreath at the ceremony.

Lieutenant Colonel Ashley Nickloes with the Tennessee Air National Guard and U.S. Air Force addressed the crowd that came to pay their respect.

“Today I hope people really give thanks for the freedoms that they have. It sounds cliché but freedom is absolutely not free. Our freedom was given in blood and today is the day to remember that blood that was shed for the freedoms that we are afforded today. So, thank a veteran, yes, but thank more than anything those who sacrificed their lives on this Memorial Day,” she said.

Nickloes remembered one veteran in particular – her grandfather. She wore his wings during the ceremony.

“My grandfather was a B-17 and B-29 pilot. B-17’s in North Africa and then he moved to the B-29 to operate out of Saipan. So, in March of ’45 he flew his last mission. Flying from Japan to Saipan and he had to ditch the aircraft because they ran out of fuel. He did not survive, he died 2 months before my mother was born,” Nickloes said.

Those in attendance are honoring the true meaning of Memorial Day.

“Those people gave up everything so we could continue living our lives the way we want to live them today. And I think it’s important. There’s men and women that are still stepping up today, writing that check that they say, blank check to this country up to and including their life, to defend the freedom and the way of life that we enjoy,” Peterson said.

“They never got to see another sunrise. They never got to hug their families. They never came home. So today, we remember them,” Nickloes said.

Volunteers placed flags on the graves at Knoxville National Cemetery over the weekend. They’re planning to pick them up Tuesday evening. If you’d like to help them collect the flags, you can go to the cemetery at 7 p.m.