On December 12, at noon sharp, veterans all over the country gathered in cemeteries to honor fallen service men and women in the Wreaths Across America ceremony.
At the Arbovale Cemetery, the Pocahontas County Veterans Honor Corps placed wreaths around the flagpole, honoring each branch of the military and POW/MIAs.
Honor Corps Corporal Rick Wooddell welcomed guests by reminding everyone of the sacrifices service men and women have made for their country.
“The freedoms we enjoy today have not come without a price,” he said. “Lying here before us in cemeteries throughout this nation are men and women who gave their lives so that we can live in freedom and without fear. We have the right to succeed and we have the right to fail at whatever endeavor we wish to pursue. The United States was founded on the ideals of freedom, justice and equality. We thank those who gave their lives to keep us free, and we shall never forget you.”
Wooddell added that the ceremony is not just for the fallen, but for the men and women who are currently serving their country in the military.
“There are many men and women serving today in all branches of the military – both here at home and in many places far away that many have not heard of,” he said. “These men and women are part of the best-trained, best-equipped forces in the world. We honor them and their families for the sacrifices they make each day to keep our country safe from terrorism, hatred and injustices that plague the world community.
“When you see a veteran or an active duty member of the armed services, take a moment to say ‘thank you,’” he continued. “We owe them for our way of life, and this moment of your time is well spent.”
The Honor Corps placed wreaths for the six branches of the armed services and one for the 93,129 United States service men and women from all branches whose last known status was either Prisoner of War or Missing in Action.
Placing the wreaths were Army Spec4 Donnie Waybright, AF A1C Steve Fierbaugh, Ret. Navy Chief Sam Arbogast, AF A1C Jerry Taylor, USN 2nd Class Petty Officer Norris Long, USN Senior Chief Barry Sharp and USA Sgt. Willard Pingley.
The ceremony concluded with a 21 gun salute and Taps.
In his closing remarks, Wooddell spoke of the significance of the ceremony.
“The wreaths before you today represent our commitment as a United America to remember the fallen,” he said. “We also want those remembrance wreaths to symbolize our honor to those who have served and are serving in the armed forces of our great nation, and to their families who endure sacrifices every day on our behalf.”