A strong December gust of frigid air blows across a modest formation of paratroopers assembled at a cemetery just outside of Fort Bragg, N.C. Grey skies have mostly kept the paratroopers from relishing in the sun’s warmth, but their minds are focused.
The XVIII Airborne Corps Paratroopers, along with and members of the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Club, organized a Wreaths Across America event on December 17, 2016 at the Sand Hills State Veteran’s Cemetery in Spring Lake, N.C. The purpose of the event was to honor the service of fallen military members.
In the weeks preceding the event, the motorcycle club collected funds to provide more than 5,000 wreaths that were each prepared and placed at Sand Hills Cemetery. A combination of Soldiers, club members and other volunteers collected the wreaths, and transported them by way of motorcade to the cemetery on the morning of the event.
Sgt. 1st. Class Jean Mott, one of the event’s organizers and a XVIII Airborne Corps Soldier, said her participation in the nationwide event is personal.
December 17, 2016 - Sgt. 1st. Class Jean Mott, a XVIII Airborne Corps Soldier, salutes a fallen Soldier’s grave during a Wreaths Across America event at the Sand Hills State Veteran’s Cemetery in Spring Lake, NC. Wreaths Across America, an annual-event that began in Maine in 1992, is conducted as a way to honor fallen service members.(U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Hubert D. Delany III)
“My nephew was actually killed in Afghanistan, and he’s buried right here at Sand Hill,” said Mott. “I started working on this event the year after I escorted him home. Every year it seems to increase in popularity, and that’s a great example of remembrance.”
Chris Rey, the Mayor of Spring Lake, N.C., Col. James Brisson, the 1st Theater Sustainment Command chaplain, and Col. Tim Watson, the XVIII Airborne Corps chief of staff, each gave a speech on the importance of honoring America’s military.
Rey spoke on the heroism of the fallen.
“We come here to take a little bit of time to remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice,” said Rey. “We come here with the understanding that we can never, never forget.”
After the speeches, wreaths were placed in front of chosen representatives by volunteers to honor the collective fallen. The Army, other branches of service, prisoners of war, and Gold Star Families each had a representative.
Jacob Roth, a retired sergeant major who served with 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), talked about how important the event was to him.
December 17, 2016 - Retired Sgt. Maj. Jacob Roth, formally of the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), hangs a holiday wreath representing the service of fallen prisoners of war during a Wreaths Across America event at the Sand Hills State Veteran’s Cemetery in Spring Lake, NC. According to Senate Resolution 726 of the 110th U.S. Congress, “recognizes the sacrifices our veterans, service members and their families have made, and continue to make, for our great Nation.” (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Hubert D. Delany III)
“It’s the freedom of what we have,” said Roth. “It’s very important that we all get together, and be able to inspire the public.”
Wreaths Across America is an annual-event that began in Maine in 1992. According to Senate Resolution 726 of the 110th U.S. Congress, “recognizes the sacrifices our veterans, service members and their families have made, and continue to make, for our great Nation.” The ceremony takes place at every national cemetery at noon on the second Saturday in December.
By U.S. Army Pfc. Hubert D. Delany III
Provided through DVIDS
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