JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

The American flag is a symbol of freedom to many in our country. On Saturday it was a symbol of thanks for the sacrifices local servicemen and women made defending our country.

People began observing Memorial Day a little early at the Jacksonville National Cemetery by placing flags on the graves of veterans.

Jane Holladay visited her husband's grave at the Jacksonville National Cemetery for the first time. She spent time talking to her husband's headstone.

"We wish we could have you with us. And the children are just grown up," said Holladay.

The 90-year-old made the trip with her daughter. They transferred the remains of Dan Hollady, a World War II veteran, here a few years ago and decided to come visit on the day volunteers got together to place flags on nearly every grave.

The support committee for the Jacksonville National Cemetery joined friends and family of those buried, and community groups and businesses to honor those who served and gave their lives for our country.

"We all have to remember that. Because that's why we're here today. And we're here today to honor them by placing a flag. The flag that they died for and the flag that they're proud of," said Joe Covella.

Row by row they placed flags at every headstone making sure every servicemen and family member buried at the cemetery received a small gesture of thanks.

IMAGES: Flags honor fallen, nation

People have taken part in this event at the Jacksonville National Cemetery since 2009. Saturday volunteers added more than 7,000 flags to the graves of our country's fallen.

Corey Hampton and Laura Hampton both served in the Army and brought their nieces along. They said it's a chance to see what it means to give.

"It lets them see that it is important to volunteer because obviously we have so many troops overseas right now and stateside that have given their lives that someone's going to have to replace them someone's going to have to step up," said Corey Hampton.

For Jason Hampton it was a time to honor his father who served and those who gave their lives defending our country.

"Probably the greatest honor you could do would be to give your life for your country and just it means a lot of everyone that everyone serves and we're all thankful for it," said Jason Hampton.

All the volunteers are thankful and happy to show appreciation in a small but special way.