Families, friends, veterans and elected officials gathered at the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne to dedicate memorial 17 years in the making.

BOURNE — Saturday marked a major milestone for those who have lost a loved one in the global war on terrorism.

Families, friends, veterans and elected officials gathered at the Massachusetts National Cemetery to dedicate a memorial 17 years in the making.

“Please let’s not let this happen to anymore young Americans," said Paul Monti, a gold star father and founder of the SFC Jared C. Monti Foundation.

Cape Cod Veterans Inc., the Korean War Veterans Association Chapter 299, Boston's Wounded Vet Run charity ride, and American Legion Post 405 of Raynham helped raise the funds necessary to make this memorial possible.

“It is serendipity to place this memorial at the entrance of such hallow trails,” said Francisco Urena, Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans Services, outside the cemetery.

About 40,000 veterans in our country have served since 2001, Urena said. Whether they were in Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Africa or other places, their focus was on the global war on terror — the longest war in which America has participated, he said.

Although this memorial to the global war on terrorism is one of many throughout the country, Urena said this one is special.

“All of us here know of someone who has sacrificed immensely,” Urena said. “It is in their honor that we must remind (people) what this memorial stands for. We must be mindful of all those who continue to sacrifice for our country.”

U.S. Rep. William Keating said while he remembers those who gave their their lives to fight the war on terror, he is also looking to the future.

Echoing the words of a famous quote, Keating said the willingness of young people to serve their country in war is directly proportional to the way veterans are appreciated and treated.

“For that, I am profoundly grateful," Keating said.

For Yarmouth Deputy Police Chief Steven Xiarhos , July 23, 2009, marked the day his life was changed.

His son, Marine Cpl. Nicholas Xiarhos, was killed while on duty serving Afghanistan, said Xiarhos. He is buried at the National Cemetery.

“He was forever frozen in time at age 21,” said Xiarhos, who listed other young service members who are also buried at the cemetery. “They were willing to sacrifice everything for this great nation. They are real patriots, real warriors, and they have really sacrificed everything. They did it because they believed in something.”

— Follow Beth Treffeisen on Twitter @BTreffeisenCCT.