MISSOULA — For those who have lost loved ones, the holidays will never be the same. And in Missoula, the Western Montana State Veterans Cemetery joins others across the nation in honoring fallen veterans by placing wreaths on their final resting place.
“Lying here before us, and in cemeteries throughout this nation are men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Peter Graf, Civil Air Patrol Missoula Squadron member and retired Air Force pilot.
What was started by a wreath company after having some extra wreaths lying around has grown into a nationwide ceremony of remembrance. The Civil Air Patrol Missoula Squadron put on the event, raising money for all the wreaths laid.
“It's not so much decorating the gravesite as just honoring and remembering veterans who have sacrificed everything for this country,” said Jim Meixner, Civil Air Patrol Missoula Squadron commander and retired Marine.
“We thank those who gave their lives to keep us free. We shall not forget you. We shall always remember,” Graf said in his address to volunteers about the event.
Around the nation, all at the same time, ceremonies took place to honor the fallen. A moment of silence, followed by a wreath for each branch of the military, to honor those in the branch who never made it home. And then volunteers placed nearly 1,400 wreaths.
Including young cadets, who said it was an honor to be keeping their legacies alive.
Placed gently on the graves of fallen men and women who served in the United States military is a wreath. Paired with a smile, moment of silence or a story in remembrance and honor of those gave so much.