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Tennessee Season to Remember Ceremony--Mikayla Lewis

NASHVILLE, Tenn.--Christmas is a time of joy for many people, but for some it is a time to remember their loved ones who were victims of homicide.

Hundreds gathered at the First Baptist Church in Downtown Nashville tonight, for the 11th annual "Tennessee Season to Remember" ceremony.

Families who lost their loved ones came together with local and state law enforcement, and Governor Bill Haslam.

May Martinez said, " No one knows what it is like to lose a child until you do lose a child."

May Martinez lost her 19-year-old daughter Colleen Slemmer in 1995. Slemmer was allegedly killed by a fellow Job Corp student, Christa Pike and her then boyfriend. Slemmer was murdered on Friday, January 13th  in Knoxville. Martinez says the pair crushed her daughter's skull, beat her, and carved a pentagram on her chest.

 Martinez added, " They took her skull as a souvenir, the State of Tennessee held onto her skull for 15 years and I just got that back a few years ago."

Last year, Martinez started participating in the state's Season to Remember ceremony.

Tennessee Board of Parole director, Lisa Fox said, " We want victims to know that their voices are not only heard through the criminal justice process, but that their voices are valued as well."

Victims were honored by ornaments on two large Christmas wreaths. Fox 17 news anchor, Scott Couch hosted the event and Edward Wisdom III was the keynote speaker. Wisdom's father, Ed Wisdom Jr. was murdered on his porch in October 2011.

Ed Wisdom III said, "It pierces the hearts of families but to commemorate and memorialize and to celebrate their lives more so than the disdain and despair of their deaths."

Martinez said, "Helping the families that need it and make good out of it, and so far I think it will help."

About 1,900 invitations were sent out to victims families. The Christmas wreaths will be displayed in the State Capitol building through the holiday season.