Wreaths Across America: Remembering The Fallen - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Wreaths Across America: Remembering The Fallen

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By: Claire Powell


A tradition that began at Arlington National Cemetery has spread across the nation.

"Wreaths Across America" is a way to remember fallen soldiers and honor their service for our country by placing wreaths on every grave. This year, the event took place at over 900 cemeteries.

In Iowa, hundreds of people went to The Iowa Veteran's Cemetery in Van Meter.

Six years ago, there were only seven wreaths laid at seven gravesides. Saturday, there were over 1,400 wreaths, one at every grave.

Sons stopped at graves of their fathers.

"I think dad would be happy that it's so cold out today…" said Robert Campbell, who's father was in the U.S. Navy. "I miss you dad... love you."

Wreaths rested against headstones of grandparents, mothers and fathers, daughters and sons. 

"I'm very proud, very proud of what he did. He was a tough man. I honor him and he honors us with what he did for our country. He was a big part of my life and everyone's life," said Campbell.

Roger and Chris Nielson lost their son Matthew in an attack in Iraq in June of 2011.

"We had to deal with the knock on the door," said Roger Nielson, Matthew's father.  

They brought their son home and had to decide where to lay him to rest.

"This is a beautiful cemetery for burying veterans. We just decided right then and there, this is where we wanted to put our son," said Nielson.

The Nielson's wreath was one of the few here two years ago.

"There weren't as many people two years ago, but coming out here today, my wife said ‘oh my god, this is wall to wall people' and I said, ‘this is good... this is picture post card perfect," said Nielson.

Every time Roger travels for his job, he makes a quick detour, to see the oldest of his eight children.

"I make detours to stop by. Just to be here a little while... I still miss him," said Nielson.

As the number of fallen soldiers grows, so will the number of wreaths.

"They all served, they're all veterans. It's because of them we have what we've got in this country," said Retired Colonel Robert King, Iowa Department of Veteran Affairs. 

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