For Valencia High School student Kathleen Caballero, Memorial Day means more than just a three-day weekend.
"Some people just think of it as a day off school, but it's a lot deeper than that," said Caballero, 18, who plans to enter military service after high school. "It's a day to remember those who gave their lives for this country."
Valencia is among schools across Orange County that took time out this week to remember those members of the armed forces who fought and died.
At Valencia, which has lost 14 graduates in the line of duty since the school opened in 1933, more than 600 students and teachers gathered Thursday to pay tribute.
As the band played "America the Beautiful," students filed through the school's memorial garden and placed red, white, and blue carnations on plaques dedicated to former students who fought in World War II, and the Korean, Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars.
The annual event was founded 12 years ago by Harry Doland, now principal at Kraemer Middle School.
Student Mary Meshreky, 17, pointed out two glass cases filled with war memorabilia.
"This is great because a lot of people, when they walk by and look at all this stuff, say, 'Yes, I want to be in the armed forces too,' " she said.
"And even after the whole assembly is over and you go back to class, you hear people talk about it, and they share stories about their dad or grandparents who fought in a war. It's just awesome."