As U.S. military convoys leaving Iraq made their way south and crossed into Kuwait, semi-trucks fanned out across American with Christmas wreaths to place at the base of white headstones of graves of service men and women who died for our nation.
More than 7,500 American and allied troops from 20 nations lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq alone, nearly 4,500 of our men and women in uniform died and more than 30,000 U.S. soldiers and air men women were wounded. More than 100,000 Iraqi citizens lost their lives.
Meanwhile, men, women and children will have unloaded over 400,000 wreaths this Christmas and laid them next to tombstone of fallen Americans in U.S. military cemeteries as part of the Wreaths Across America.
Wreath laying ceremonies will occur at over 400 state, national and local cemeteries and monuments all across the United States and 24 Veteran Cemeteries overseas. Wreaths Across America's mission is to Remember the fallen; Honor those who serve; and Teach the children the value of freedom.
Here is how Wreaths Across American started. In 1992, the Maine's Worchester Wreath Company found themselves with an excess of wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season. Seeing an opportunity to make a boyhood dream a reality, Morrill Worchester's efforts to do something special with those wreaths began in earnest. With the help of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, arrangements were made for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington in one of the older sections of the cemetery, a section which received fewer visitors with each passing year.
Even though Operation Iraqi Freedom has concluded with the last convoy moving into Kuwait over the weekend, we still have American troops in Afghanistan and other parts of the world which threaten us. We need to remember them and their families who will be apart this holiday season.
Merry Christmas and please don't forget!
Don C. Brunell, President, (DonB@awb.org).