LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — For the first time in 41 years, the community gathered Saturday to host a wreath-laying ceremony at Michigan’s Veterans Memorial Monument.

People gathered on the northeast lawn of the state Capitol, later moving inside Central United Methodist Church, to honor the sacrifices of the men and women who have served our country. A wreath-laying began Saturday’s Veterans Day ceremony.

Former Congressman Mike Rogers looked back at his time serving in the Armed Forces. “The people that I met, the leadership that I observed, the discipline that you learned. And this notion that you are participating with men and women who also believe there is something bigger than themselves,” Rogers said. “Those are lessons that you’ll take with you for the rest of your life.”

The Veterans Memorial Monument on the Capitol lawn is one of the first in the U.S. that memorializes a state’s citizens who served in World War I, World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. In Michigan, that’s around 1.4 million citizens, according to the center panel of the monument.

“Our veterans raised their right hand to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and they did so with honor and dignity,” said Major General Bryan Teff of the Michigan Air National Guard. “We salute you and appreciate the great cost that often comes with serving.”

Veterans then had a chance to share stories from their time in combat. “I was the sole survivor of an attack. I was sitting behind the driver and was thrown from the truck, and everyone else was killed,” said Iraq War Army veteran and former City Council member Brian Daniels. “My right foot was blown off and I had to have it reattached and learn to walk again.”

Former Congressman Rogers spoke about his hopes that future generations will step up as they have in the past, fighting for their country. “This didn’t happen by accident; this didn’t happen for free,” said Rogers. “We have to defend this nation and we have to understand that commitment, that risk, that sacrifice is really important.”