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Family members, veterans, service members honor fallen Staff Sgt. Raymond Boyington

Family members and members of Disabled American Veterans and Veterans of Foreign Wars District 15 lay wreaths on grave sites for a ceremony for Wreaths Across America Dec. 14, 2013. The program is designed to remember fallen service members, honor their service, and teach their history. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Ray Boyington)

FORT DEVENS, Mass. – Soldiers, members of Veterans of Foreign Wars District 15 and the Disabled American Veterans organization, and families of the fallen gathered at the Fort Devens Cemetery Dec. 14, 2013, to place wreaths on veterans’ graves as a part of Wreaths Across America.

The program follows a three-part mission: to remember veterans who have passed, honor their service, and teach others their history.

“What [volunteers] try to do is have enough wreaths to cover each of the veterans' grave sites,” said Richard Nielen, the acting deputy commander of the installation. The people go out and put the wreaths on the graves. It makes it a little more personal when you're out there and know the veterans you're taking care of.

More than 300 locations nation-wide hold wreath-laying ceremonies, including Arlington National Cemetery. However, not every cemetery is able to give such individual attention as there are not enough volunteers for larger cemeteries.

“We're not a huge cemetery,” said Nielen. “We're still small enough so that we can do something like that.”

This was the second time that Fort Devens conducted the ceremony. The program was initiated by the Fort Devens commander, Lt. Col. Steven F. Egan.

“It was Lt. Col. Egan that got the program going,” said Nielen. The idea came from discussions with other post commanders and was spread by word of mouth. He thought it was a good idea and the fort implemented its first ceremony last year.

Last year’s ceremony had approximately 30 guests with about 70 donated wreaths, said Nielen. This year, the number of people was doubled and the number of wreaths was tripled. “It was a good turnout.”

Each wreath-laying ceremony has special meaning to its participants.

“For me, it's honoring the people that have gone before you,” said Nielen. “It's one more way to honor them and keep the tradition going. You want to remember the service of the people that came before you, honor them, and then teach other people about it.”

For more information on Wreaths Across America, visit its website at www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.


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Public Domain Mark
This work, Soldiers, veterans, family members honor the fallen, by SSG Raymond Boyington, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.

Date Taken:12.14.2013

Date Posted:12.20.2013 11:25

Location:FORT DEVENS, MA, USGlobe

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