By Sgt. Kelsey L. Miller, 1st BCT, 1st AD Public Affairs:
(El Paso, Texas, Jan. 4, 2018)
Hundreds of volunteers spent their Saturday morning at the Fort Bliss National Cemetery laying wreaths at headstones throughout the grounds here Dec. 16, 2017. They participated in a national event known as Wreaths Across America, which honors fallen U.S. service members.
The ceremony was part of the national effort at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, and Fort Bliss was one of approximately 1,800 locations across the country to host a ceremony. Fort Bliss has supported the effort every year for the past eight years.
The ceremony began with a moment of silence to remember the fallen, Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action, as well as to honor those who have served and those who continue to serve.
“We are gathered here today at this memorial site and memorial sites all across America to remember that we are one nation with one flag,” said Jerry Powers, the master of ceremonies at Fort Bliss National Cemetery. “Today we show a united front of national unity all across the United States of America as we remember the fallen and those who serve and teach our children the value of freedom.”
During the ceremony, a representative from each branch of service laid a wreath in memory of those who served. Joseph Hudson, a former POW, laid a wreath in honor of the 93,852 service men and women whose last known status was either POW or Missing in Action, and who never returned home to their friends and families.
The wreaths were composed of 10 balsam bouquets, which symbolize values the veteran holds dearly. The 10 bouquets together symbolize honor and integrity. The circular shape of the wreath symbolizes eternity, and its clean scent symbolizes purity and simplicity. The red bow on the top represents the veteran’s great sacrifice.
“This year when you place a wreath on a veteran’s grave, know it is not just a wreath; it is your personal gift to an American hero,” Powers said. “The wreaths before you represent our commitment as a United America to remember the fallen. As a nation standing together, we can defeat terrorism, hatred and injustice. God bless our veterans and God bless America.”