The annual tradition of honoring fallen veterans during the holiday season returned this weekend with enthusiasm.
On Saturday, people laid wreaths at the graves of military service members for “Wreaths Across America” ceremonies.
Dozens gathered to remember fallen service members during a ceremony early Saturday morning at the Rock Island National Cemetery.
Thomas Zimmerman, a Navy veteran, says this ceremony means a lot for his family.
“We were here together a couple of years ago, and we sorta made it a tradition that we all try to get together and place wreaths on veteran’s graves,” said Zimmerman.
Saturday’s event was a learning experience for the youngest member of the family.
“This is the first time Memphis has been here with us,” said Zimmerman. “He’s been really good. We tried explaining the meaning of laying the wreaths and everything.”
Thomas’ son, Jeff Zimmerman, says this was an opportunity to give back to those who served his country.
“Thank them for what it means, and for what we get to enjoy in life now, and I want to make sure we pass that on down,” said Zimmerman.
Ken Voorhees, a member of the National Guard who attended Saturday’s event with his family, says he appreciates the community’s support.
“It’s good to see them supporting not only me, but all those other families, and those that have passed along and continue to honor their service,” said Voorhees.
This was the first time since the beginning of the pandemic that people were able to take part in the event.
“The turnout here was phenomenal — much more than we’ve had in the past — and while I think it’s great for the community, it’s to remember those who sacrificed their lives in the service of their great country and this great community.”
More than 2,500 cemeteries participated in “Wreaths Across America” on Saturday.