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Wreaths Across America

Wreaths Across America at Georgia National Cemetery in Canton, Ga.  (courtesy photo)

Laying the Air Force wreath with 1st. Lt. Ray Bell, WWII Army Air Corps veteran, and Lt. Col. Todd Copley at the ceremony for Wreaths Across America at Georgia National Cemetery in Canton, Ga. (courtesy photo)

Wreaths Across America at Georgia National Cemetery in Canton, Ga.  (courtesy photo)

1st Lt. Ray Bell, WWII Army Air Corps veteran, attends ceremony for Wreaths Across America at Georgia National Cemetery in Canton, Ga. (courtesy photo)

Wreaths Across America at Georgia National Cemetery in Canton, Ga.  (courtesy photo)

Wreaths Across America at Georgia National Cemetery in Canton, Ga. (courtesy photo)

DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. -- What turned out in 1992 as a simple gesture by the Worcester Wreath Company to donate 5,000 Christmas wreaths to the Arlington National Cemetery, has turned into a national push to honor the graves of veterans in cemeteries and memorials throughout the country and on foreign soil.

Wreaths Across America  was born in 2006 out of a desire to honor and respect those American servicemen and women, with the wreath laying now held annually on the second Saturday of December.

Locally, the 94th Airlift Wing's involvement began four years ago at the Georgia National Cemetery  in Canton, Ga., when the base honor guard provided personnel to honor the colors and perform the 21-gun salute to our fallen comrades.

The 700th Airlift Squadron has provided ground liaison personnel, as well as C-130 flyovers for the ceremony. With the crowds growing bigger every year, the 94th Security Forces Squadron has been a huge help with security and directing traffic in and around GNC.

Winter usually comes early that December day, serving up cold temperatures that combine with cold winds rising up the ridge line, chilling you to the bone if not properly dressed.

Over 100 motorcycles from the American Legion Patriot Riders show up, braving the cold temperature and flying the American flag on the back of their bikes. Upon dismount, they form a gauntlet with the flags leading to the ceremony.

More than 750 people showed at the GNC while the same ceremony was going on throughout the United States and overseas in 350 simultaneous ceremonies.

At the conclusion of this event, one of my friends who has never served, but has deep admiration for our military, paid me the compliment, "This is the best Christmas gift I could have received." It's true for me too. Like many who are present, I have a loved one laid to rest there also.