Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Charles Gaddis IV, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Det. Northwest
At 9 a.m. in Bremerton, service members and volunteers came together in synch with other members throughout cemeteries across America to honor fallen service members.
“I feel honored to show my respects to our heritage and be present for Wreaths Across America,” said Airman 1st Class Albert Smith, U.S. Air Force. “This tradition shows that Americans are thankful for the sacrifices of those who served before us.”
Even in the cold weather, service members and other participants stood, withstanding the frosty bite of the wind to honor the fallen.
The Mayor of Bremerton, Patty Lent, presented the history of WAA along with some very warm words.
“The cold that we are going through is probably equal to the cold over in Arlington right now,” said Mayor Lent. “But we shall stay warm with our hearts as we honor those who gave their life for our country.”
The guest speaker for the ceremony, Naval Base Kitsap’s commanding officer, Captain Alan Schrader, spoke to all the participants.
“As we focus on these men and women, we remember that regardless of whether our veterans served in Vietnam, Europe, the Middle East, under the Arctic or anywhere else on Earth, they are making sacrifices for us.” said Captain Schrader.
Ivy Green Cemetery has a large military section honoring all services and houses a replica of the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier”, honoring fallen military men and women.
“Before you leave today, I encourage you to walk around the cemetery to see the outstanding work that the City of Bremerton as well as civilian and military volunteers have done to honor our veterans,” said Schrader.
“In 1992, Worcester Wreath found themselves with a surplus of wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season. Remembering his boyhood experience at Arlington, Worcester realized he had an opportunity to honor our country’s veterans. With the aid of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, arrangements were made for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington in one of the older sections of the cemetery that had been receiving fewer visitors with each passing year,” according to WAA’s website.
The annual wreath-laying is traditionally held on the second or third Saturday of December. WAA met its goal of covering every grave in Arlington National Cemetery in 2014 resulting in the placement of 226,525 wreaths.