The service -- and sacrifices -- of the nation's military veterans got a holiday salute Saturday in Darien, one of similar tributes across the country.

Wreaths Across America in Spring Grove Veterans Cemetery was the site of the local observance, where more than 950 wreaths were laid at the headstones of veterans buried there.

"It's really a wonderful way to take time out from the hustle and bustle and just take a step back and remember," said Phil Kraft, post commander for Darien's Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6933.

"It's nice to know that we can do the same thing that they do in Arlington for our servicemen," he said.

The tradition began with the Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, which in 1992 had a surplus of holiday wreaths that it sent to Arlington Cemetery. Now an official non-profit group, Wreaths Across America promotes that cause nationally.

Many of the wreaths placed at the Darien burial ground were made possible by $15 contributions by area residents.

"This is a great respect for the servicemen," said Bob Riith of Darien, an Army veteran, "because of what these guys did for our country."

Around 50 people attended the noontime ceremony, which coincided with others around the nation.

"We thank those who gave their lives to keep us free and we shall not forget you," Kraft said. "We will remember ... We're here today to say thank you and we were honored to know you."

"When you see a veteran or active member of the armed services, take a minute to thank them," he said. "We owe them our freedom."

Along with veterans in attendance, members of two Boy Scout troops, as well as some local officials, were in attendance.

"It's a good event," said Seren Samy of Darien, a veteran who brought his daughter Sharad, 4, to witness it.

"What better way to honor the people that have given their service to the country, and I want to teach my daughter about this too," he said.

Wayne Garber of Stamford remembered recalled the controversy the sometimes engulfed veterans returning from Vietnam. "When you came home it was hard," he said. "But now that they're honoring the Vietnam veterans, it's a blessing."

"It's a blessing to be able to honor the veterans who served in the service," he said. "And most of the families can't get out here to do it," he said, which is why it's important that others do.

"That's what freedom is all about," said Dennis Clayburn of Fairfield, who served in Vietnam. "It's so hard to put into words."