Photos: Hundreds attend largest Memorial Day ceremony in Ariz.

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Ceremonies across the nation are taking place today to honor those who have died defending America and the freedom we enjoy. The largest event in Arizona got under way at 8 a.m. Monday.

Each year, hundreds of folks come out to the VA National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona in north Phoenix for a moving event that remembers those who sacrificed everything to defend our country.

The remembrances started over the weekend when Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and youth military groups came out place small American flags at the 48,000 grave sites.

“This is one of events we look forward to yearly,” Jon Partridge of the Firebird Young Marines on Saturday. “It’s a certain atmosphere that makes you proud to be an American.”

Monday's events kicked off with a military flyover of vintage planes in the traditional missing-man formation that is an aerial salute to the fallen. There also were patriotic songs, a parade of colors, placing of wreaths and other traditions. 

The emotional ceremony ended with "Taps," a rifle volley and the releasing of dozens of white doves.

Many local military members and veterans from all branches came out to pay tribute to others who never came home.

The event -- which is considered one of the best in the country, second only to the ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery -- was open to everyone.