By Sgt. 1st Class Shannon Wright, ASC Public Affairs OfficeDecember 9, 2014
MILAN, Ill. -- Rock Island National Cemetery will welcome about 250 wreaths from Wreaths Across America, Dec. 13, when it lays the gifts on the gravestones of men and women laid to rest there.
Maj. Gen. Kevin O'Connell, commanding general, U.S. Army Sustainment Command and Rock Island Arsenal, participated in an event, Dec. 5, to raise awareness about the wreath-laying.
"It's a great way for American citizens to come together across the nation to honor our veterans who have passed away," he said.
Wreaths Across America is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to educate the population about our veterans in an effort to ensure we do not forget them or their families. One of the ways it does this is by decorating the graves of veterans across the nation and abroad every year during the holiday season.
O'Connell was joined by Aaron Tennant, president and CEO of Tennant Truck Lines, Inc., based in Colona, Illinois, and Lt. Col. Tom Nielsen, Moline Civil Air Patrol commander, at a warehouse in Milan where wreaths were being stored before being transported to national and state cemeteries.
Tennant's company donates drivers and fuel to move wreaths from Maine across the country, including Arlington National Cemetery.
"As truckers and true patriots, we wanted to give back," Tennant said. "We wanted to help, so we donated trucks to haul wreaths, first from Maine to Arlington, and then on to other states."
Nielsen has organized the event at Rock Island Arsenal for the past six years.
"We are honoring not only our fallen, but their families," he said. "I encourage everyone to come out and help us lay wreaths."
Nielsen said they would need about 50 to 100 volunteers at the cemetery.
The event begins at 11 a.m., Dec. 13, at the flagpole at Rock Island National Cemetery. Nielsen and Col. Elmer Speights Jr., commander, U.S. Army Garrison -- Rock Island Arsenal, will address the crowd prior to placing wreaths.
"We in uniform stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before us as we move forward in the Army," O'Connell said, adding it is our duty to honor their memories.