Fallen veterans' families lay wreaths at JBER
The Fort Richardson National Cemetery has been dressed for the holidays this season, after late service members' loved ones laid more than a thousand fresh wreaths on their headstones with support from a national non-profit group.
Saturday's event at the cemetery on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson drew a large crowd. After a formal ceremony, families fanned out among the rows of graves to lay their wreaths.
Mistie Hammond brought four generations of her family to visit her grandfather's grave. She said she wanted the children to see how the wreaths could honor all who served.
"There's so many that get forgotten, and I think this is a great way to remember those and the families and why we are here," Hammond said.
Families had help Saturday from Wreaths Across America, started several years ago by a Maine businessman who wanted to place a wreath on every grave at Arlington National Cemetery. Since then, the nonprofit has offered wreath sponsorships to the public so wreaths can be put on soldiers' graves.
Officials at the charity say this year more than a million wreaths have been laid at cemeteries around the country, including Alaska.
For many the event has become a tradition, but for others the day was new. Annette Addington attended her first wreath-laying ceremony on Saturday. Her partner of more than three decades, Paul Moll, died at the end of September after 26 years in the Air Force.
"He was loved by many," Addington said, placing a wreath on his grave. "It's really hard."
Addington said she agrees with the philosophy of the nonprofit.
"As long as their name is spoken out loud, they'll never be forgotten," Addington said.
According to Wreaths Across America, the ceremony isn't just about decorating graves or remembering how veterans died – it’s about remembering how they lived.
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