FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (May 28, 2015) -- A group of Waynesville school district students have a new appreciation for the nation's fallen, after completing a special project for the Fort Leonard Wood community.

The students took on the project as a way to connect with the military community and to provide a tribute to fallen service members as the community prepared to celebrate Memorial Day, Monday.

"The memorial quilt is a reflection of the meaning behind Memorial Day: to remember those Soldiers we have lost in conflict," Nielsen said.

Nielsen said she was amazed that she lived in a military community, yet knew so little about it. She said the project was a way to build a sense of connection between students from military Families, students not from military Families and the community.

"This group took on this project as a way to try to remind the broader community that those in the military (particularly with an all-volunteer force) are more directly affected by our nation's conflicts," Nielsen said.

Quilt preparation began in early spring. Students visited museums and memorial sites on the installation to get a sense of the project they were taking on. Nielsen got feedback from the students and took them to pick out materials. Afterward, military members and community members wrote the names of service members they knew, who were killed in action.

Demetria McKinney, one of the students who helped make quilt, said the project made an impact on her life.

"It gave me a better understanding of what the holiday means, and it has really made me appreciate it a lot more," she said

At the presentation ceremony, Fort Leonard Wood leadership gathered with students and club sponsors to celebrate the completed project.

"They put in a lot of hard work and effort," said Command Sgt. Maj. Tyson Goolsby, Garrison command sergeant major.

Brig. Gen. Kent Savre, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, Command Sgt. Maj. Roy Ward, MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood command sergeant major, and Goolsby accepted the quilt on behalf of the installation.

Savre said Fort Leonard Wood has a strong connection with the community.

"From my perspective I have never been in a place where we are more connected. We believe as military members, as Soldiers and as a military community, we cannot serve without the support of our Families, and our Families can't serve without the support of our community and we are all in it together. There is no place in America where we are all in it together more than central Missouri," Savre said.

"What better representation of a community than a quilt? Sometimes we forget what Memorial Day is all about. Memorial Day is really about those that we lost, our fallen, those that paid the ultimate sacrifice," Savre said.

Following the ceremony, the quilt went on display at the Exchange and will eventually be placed in a permanent display on the installation.