By U.S. ArmyDecember 18, 2014
More than 400 evergreen wreaths were laid on the graves at the Missouri Veterans Cemetery at Fort Leonard Wood Saturday during the Wreaths Across America ceremony.
This is the fourth year the Missouri Veterans Cemetery at Fort Leonard Wood has participated in the event.
Wreaths Across America's mission to remember, honor, teach, is carried out in part by coordinating wreath laying ceremonies on a specified Saturday in December at Arlington, as well as 908 other cemeteries.
The theme for 2014 was "Remember, Honor, Teach -- Don't Say I Should Have, Say I Did!"
Staff Sgt. Steven Lah, 399th Army Band, started singing the national anthem and, after a few lines, the crowd started to join in.
"You can feel the camaraderie and friendship out here," said Dennis Engstrom, retired Army veteran.
The guest speaker for this year's event was Maj. Gen. Leslie Smith, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general.
"We come together today, not only as a community but as a nation, to insure our fallen are not forgotten," Smith said.
Smith said he keeps photos on his desk of every Soldier that he had to bury three years ago as a commander.
"I think about them and I think about their sacrifice. I think about what it means to their Families, so this is very important today," Smith said.
Following the service the Pulaski Young Marines, Civil Air Patrol, Boy Scouts of America, and Waynesville High School Interact Club and Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps groups helped distribute the wreaths to every headstone.
Engstrom said it is always good to remember veterans, but especially this time of year.
"I have some friends that are buried here. It is nice to honor them and their service in this way," Engstrom said. "It is special to come together at this time of year to pay tribute to those that have given so much for their country.
Last year, a total of 540,000 remembrance wreaths were placed across the country.