Remembering fallen loved ones with holiday wreaths around headstones
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WICS) —
The holidays are here, but some of our veteran families are missing those serving overseas and some are missing those who are laid to rest.
Saturday, we take a journey into Camp Butler where thousands of ornaments adorned tombstones for thousands of our heroes.
"We love you, we miss you, you’re supposed to be with your family,” said Jonathan Irwin, a local US Army veteran.
There was a sea of white, red, and green.
Irwin remembered his grandfather and father, both who've served in the US Military.
"It's nice that we remember on the holidays,” said Irwin. “Because truly that's when you miss your loved one that’s gone."
Irwin served for nearly ten years.
"My son is serving currently so being a veteran means a lot to me and my family and we want to make sure that legacy continues."
Hundreds of others spent time with their fallen heroes at Camp Butler.
"It's means everything,” said Susie Armstrong, who came to the wreaths laying event to visit her mother and father who had laid to rest.
Armstrong is a part of a family of ten.
"Those last two years were priceless,” she said. “Because I got to hear stories I’ve never heard. And got to hear a lot about the military then and don't regret doing it I think it's something too many kids these days don't hear those stories, you need to listen while they are alive."
Thousands of wreaths accompanied tombstones, Saturday.
"This is one of the largest crowds that we've ever had out here,” said the local coordinator, David McKnelly.
But there weren’t enough wreaths to cover the 26,000 who lay at rest.
"I would love to see each and every one of these headstones,” McKnelly said. “Have a wreath on it, that is my ultimate goal to make sure everyone is remembered at Christmas time."
There were soldiers and veterans saluting the tombstones.
"The worst isn't the thought of dying in combat,” said Irwin. “The worst isn't the thought of being captured, the worst is the thought of being forgotten."
Governor Bruce Rauner spoke at the "Wreaths Across America" ceremony in Pulaski County Saturday at the Mound National Cemetery.
A total of 1.2 million wreaths were placed on markers across the country in 1,238 locations.