AIKEN, S.C – It’s tough not having loved ones during Christmas. Wreaths Across America organizers brought the Aiken community together for families and friends to honor their fallen veterans during the holiday season.
“What they did for us. They did everything. They signed a blank check and it was cashed for us,” says Ronald Euvanks, a participant.
Many men and women sacrificed their lives for the freedom our country. To pay respect and honor those who have fallen, every December, Wreaths Across America holds a wreath-laying ceremony in 1600 locations to remember all veterans’ legacies.
All six branches were represented such as the Army and Marine Corps. Dwight Bradham, a key note speaker at the ceremony, had a clear message for everyone to take in as each wreath finds a new home.
“To remember, to honor, and again to teach. That’s the big 3 to drive home to everyone to make sure they understand,” says Bradham.
Families and volunteers laid 22 hundred wreaths across Sunset Memorial Gardens in Aiken. Bradham asked each person to say their loved one’s name out loud and thank them for their service when they laid down the wreaths.
“I’ve attended a funeral in the past where they said as long as we remember their names, they don’t die. And I think that’s very important, so we were happy to do that. And honor those soldiers that were buried here,” says Ken Brace, a volunteer.
Families tell us they were proud to be a part, but it was an emotional experience.
“It’s any honor, but it’s the least we can do,” says Ronald Euvanks.
Volunteers tell us the meaning is deeper than decorating these soldiers’ graves.
“I look up that hill and I know that there are a lot of parents, sons, and daughters, who have lost family members in service or family members that have served our country and come home. It just makes me very proud to be able to honor them and what they’ve done for all of us,” says Diane Brace, a volunteer.