News / USA

Family Members, Volunteers Remember Fallen Heroes at Arlington Cemetery

Ilka Halliday places a Christmas wreath at the grave of her son, Christopher Wilson, at Arlington National Cemetery
Ilka Halliday places a Christmas wreath at the grave of her son, Christopher Wilson, at Arlington National Cemetery

Multimedia

David Byrd

The holiday season is a time when many families gather together.  But the families of many U.S. military personnel are often separated, and for some, that separation is permanent.  Several thousand volunteers recently gathered at Arlington National Cemetery outside of Washington to support and remember those who paid the ultimate price.

Ilka Halliday takes special care to make sure the Christmas wreath she places at the grave of her son, Christopher Wilson, is just right.  Wilson died in a rocket attack in Afghanistan three years ago. He is just one of the service members being remembered at Arlington Cemetery as part of a nationwide project called 'Wreaths Across America.'

Thousands of volunteers turned out to decorate some of the graves at Arlington with wreaths trucked from Maine for the ceremony.

Morrill Worcester, who owns a wreath company in Maine, started the project in 1992. "It's great to be with several thousand of my closest friends. Here we are visiting the families of 300 and some odd thousand," said Worcester.  "It's just a great day.  I can't believe that the first time I was here 19 years ago there were probably a dozen people and now look here."

The donated and sponsored wreaths include one where Ilka Halliday's son is buried among other U.S. troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Army Chaplain Lt. Colonel. Ken Godfrey says that families feel the loss more deeply at this time of year.

"Obviously that brings up a lot of personal emotions and every family deals with that differently," said Godfrey.  "Probably a place where emotion is concentrated the most is in section 60 because so many of our current active duty combat death soldiers and military members are buried over there."

Brian Merry is an Army aviation mechanic who has returned from Iraq.  He placed one of the wreaths on the grave of his friend Benjamin Sabban.

"He was an Army medic and stationed at a small fire base and ran into a tough time, a vehicle-borne IED.  I was actually in another part of Iraq at the time when it happened and I caught the news a little late," recalled Merry.  "And it was just a little tough to comprehend that he was gone."

Paula Davis lost her only son, Justin, in Afghanistan in 2006.  She says seeing so many volunteers helps her to cope with the pain.

"The holidays are always difficult and it helps that people have come out, even in the midst of their - you know people out doing their Christmas thing - that they haven't forgotten our loved ones who aren't here for Christmas," said Davis.

She is friends with other women who have lost a family member. They're called Gold Star Mothers.  Ilka Halliday says they help her to cope.

"It's like we've never existed without each other," said Halliday.  "We are just that close.  You know we can be ourselves.  We don't have to worry about what other people think.  If we want to scream, we scream; if we want to hug, we hug. You know it's great. It's absolutely great."

By the end of the day, 24,000 wreaths are placed on headstones at Arlington.  Morrill Worcester says he wants to expand the gesture to include the entire cemetery next year.

You May Like

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs