Every year wreaths are placed at the grave markers of Americans interred at national cemeteries across the country during National Wreaths Across America Day. The Fort Jackson National Cemetery is no exception.

On Dec. 15, community leaders and residents from across the Midlands gathered at the cemetery to "honor those who served and to teach our children values," said Gene B. Linxwiller, the cemetery's director.

The mission of Wreaths Across America is to remember, honor and teach during coordinated wreath-laying ceremonies across the country.

It is necessary to remember them, Brig. Gen. Milford H. "Beags" Beagle Jr said, because service members are like a check the country can cash.

"When our service members take the oath to support and defend an idea, a set of ideas, which is our Constitution, they write a blank check to the American people payable with their lives," he said. "Our purpose for being here today is just as powerful, equally as clear and just as noble -- to preserve the honor and dignity of our hero's final resting place."

He added the wreaths "indicate we didn't forget" those who died. "The wreaths also say, 'Don't forget me today, and don't just remember me on just one day.'

Beagle wasn't the only representative of Fort Jackson at the cemetery. Col. Joseph McLamb, deputy commanding officer of the Army Training Center and Command Sgt. Maj. James Hill, senior enlisted leader for the 193rd Infantry Brigade, placed a wreath to represent the Army. Staff Sgt. Alan Smith a bugler with the 282nd Army Band and a rifle squad to fire ceremonial volleys also represented the post.

After a ceremony that saw wreaths being laid for each service and speeches from Midlands leadership including Beagle and Kevin Shwedo, director of the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, attendees placed wreathes at funeral markers.

Shwedo told attendees at the ceremony to make sure to look at the backstories of those buried there -- both service members and spouse.

"We have an obligation to remember" the service member and their spouses "who are buried right here," he said.