Col. Rodriguez at ceremony
Col. Victor Rodriguez, U.S. Air Force, salutes as wreaths are laid in honor of fallen New Jersey service members Dec. 10 during a Wreaths Across America ceremony.

Picatinny officials along with members of the Civil Air Patrol laid 149 wreaths Dec. 10 in honor of the fallen servicemembers from the Garden State.

The trees are part of Picatinny's tree memorial honoring all New Jersey-connected service members who died during the nation's overseas contingency operations.

The wreath laying ceremony is a national movement that happens each year at noon on a designated date in December.

Each year thousands of wreaths are laid at the graves and at memorial sites of those who have sacrificed their life to preserve our freedoms.

The tradition of laying wreaths to honor our veteans during the holiday season began in 1992 as the "Arlington Wreath Project."

As a boy, Morrill Worcester of Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine, remembered the sacred grounds of Arlington National Cemetery and as an adult felt it in his heart to donate 5,000 wreaths to be places at the headstones of an older section of the cemetery.

What began as one man's honorable gesture has grown into a national event when in 2006 "Wreaths Across America" was formed as a non-profit organization.

Various military officers at the Arsenal as well as cadets from the Picatinny Civil Air Patrol laid a ceremonial wreath at each tree in honor of those who died during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Picatanny Arsenal Garrison Commander, Lt. Col. Herb Koehler said installation officials have plans to plant eleven more trees in honor of servicemembers from New Jersey who paid the ultimate sacrifice in 2011.

"Like you, I look forward to the day when we will no longer need to plant anymore trees," Koehler said to those who gathered for the ceremony.

Page last updated Fri December 23rd, 2011 at 00:00