On Saturday, December 12, 2009, the 18th annual Wreaths Across America memorial was held at Arlington National Cemetery. Family members, friends, loved ones and even strangers pay their respects to those whom have bravely and honorably fought for our country and have been laid to rest. Over 16,000 wreaths were laid over graves at the cemetery. This year, one of our very own Public Affairs Officers, Erika Wonn had the opportunity to participate in event.  In her blog entry below, she reflects on her visit to Arlington and talks about her new-found Ohio hero.

Arlington Holiday WreathsPhoto Courtesy of Yahoo News

This weekend I joined thousands of others who descended into Arlington National Cemetery to pay their respects to the fallen this holiday season at Wreaths Across America. I don’t know anyone personally who is buried in the cemetery, but I just couldn’t pass up this opportunity to salute those who now lay in peace within its gates. After I got my wreathto put on a grave, I walked around for awhile to try and find a place to put it. After reading many grave stones, I noticed one without a wreath in a long line of graves already adorned. His name was Robert F. Eckert, and if he were still alive today he would be my age. This was definitely the one. As I lay the wreath, fixing the bow so it would be just right, I quietly thanked him for his service.

After some research when I returned home, I found out that “Bobby” was an Ohioan just like me. He was from Cleveland, and over 6 feet tall. He served 3 tours oversees, and was a purple heart recipient. When on leave at home the last time, he asked his mother to promise to bury him in Arlington. Bobby seemed to be one of those guys who always knew he was going to be a Marine, and after a lot of hard work, I bet he was a damn good one.

I obviously didn’t know Bobby, but if I could tell him one thing it would be thank you. I don’t know if his family was there Saturday, and if so I’m sorry for taking your wreaths spot. If they weren’t able to attend, Bobby still got a very thankful visitor, an Ohioan friend. I would also tell them thank you for their sacrifice, something no one should ever have to go through. I have no idea what it was like to be in his boots, but I like to think that my prayers get to those guys over there every day.

This was a truly humbling experience, and I am thankful for the opportunity to attend. It’s an amazing way to let these families know that their sacrifice and love for their fallen will never be taken for granted. Fortunately I can not relate to the magnitude of their loss, but I continue to pray for each of them every day.

blog post 12-15Photo Courtesy: Erika Wonn