San Diego military families don’t forget loved ones, especially those who have passed.
Those families were joined early Saturday morning by active military, ROTC members, scouting groups and friends for the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in Point Loma.
Some people put wreaths of family members’ graves, while families and groups placed the evergreens at the foot of headstones.
“The names that we place the wreaths on this day, we may not know ourselves, but we know their stories,” Navy chaplain Lt. Steven Szelmeczki said during the invocation. “We know what they fought for. And we identify with them as our brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers, as our kindred, as our beloved in arms.”
About 9,000 wreaths were distributed at Fort Rosecrans and thousands more at Miramar National Cemetery, two of the more than 3,400 locations in all 50 states, at sea and abroad.
Wreaths Across America dates to 1992, when Morrill Worcester’s Worcester Wreath Co. of Harrington, Maine, placed surplus wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery “in one of the older sections … that had been receiving fewer visitors with each passing year,” says its website.
In 2007, Wreaths Across America was formed as a nonprofit, and in 2008, wreath-laying ceremonie were held at more than 300 locations — including in every state, Puerto Rico and 24 overseas cemeteries.
Congress named Dec. 13, 2008, as “Wreaths Across America Day.”
In 2014, Wreaths Across America and its national network of volunteers laid over 700,000 memorial wreaths at 1,000 domestic and foreign locations and achieved its goal of covering Arlington National Cemetery with 226,525 wreaths.
The group’s mission now involves thousands of school, scout, civic and religious groups across the country through fundraising for wreath sponsorships.
“We’re laying wreaths all across America to remember our fallen heroes,” Debbie Lee of America’s Mighty Warriors told hundreds at Saturday’s Point Loma event.
Lee, whose son, Marc, was the first Navy SEAL killed in Iraq, encouraged people to write down the names on the headstones where they lay wreaths and “look that person up learn their story and understand why it was so important to do that.”