JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – A steady cascade of cold rain splashed atop the marble and granite headstones marking the final resting places of more than 1,000 fallen service members and their families at the Camp Lewis Cemetery on Joint Base Lewis-McChord Dec. 16.
Moving row by row, Soldiers and Airmen placed green wreaths, laced with red ribbon, in front of each grave, gave a salute and spoke the names engraved in the stones to honor the memory of the interred.
The Wreaths Across America event, held at more than 2,000 locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea and abroad, is held every December and is dedicated to remembering fallen U.S. veterans, honoring all those who serve and teaching children the value of freedom.
“Today we place these wreaths on these memorial stones and we remember,” said Chaplain (Col.) David Shoffner, JBLM Garrison chaplain. “We remember with hearts full of gratitude and appreciation, the men and women these stones remind us of.”
The event, usually attended by more than 1,000 volunteer service and community members, was attended by about 50 military volunteers due to COVID-19 precautions.
“We could pay no greater honor to those we are here to recognize today than to be a great part of the Wreaths Across America,” said Army Maj. Gen. Xavier Brunson, 7th Infantry Division commanding general. “Despite COVID, we’ve come together, sponsoring more than 1,000 wreaths ensuring those in our care are recognized and remembered.”
Instead of hosting a large gathering, a film crew from the JBLM Enterprise Multimedia Center filmed the entire event so that the ceremony could be shared online and experienced virtually.
With COVID-19 restrictions putting a halt to most social gatherings on and off base, service members and civilian staff on JBLM have adapted by connecting virtually through social media, video sharing platforms and online teleconferencing.
“In order to suit the needs of our military families, our workflow has been changed to incorporate events and classes families can participate in online or in small groups to respect the standards of social distancing,” said Ki’Ori Moses, JBLM Directorate of Personnel and Family Readiness. “We have put even more effort into engaging with our audience through social media in order to answer their questions and offer quality content they can interact with.”
This year many annual observances, such as Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day and the holiday tree lighting have been hosted virtually or through prerecorded video. Base updates and many administrative and medical appointments have also moved to social-distance friendly, online formats.
“This year our team has adapted to produce high-quality videos and excellently produced live streams of events throughout the JBLM community,” said Robert Coronado, JBLM EMC audio-visual production specialist. “Using online platforms, we are able to reach larger audiences and provide an essential service that saves time, energy and manpower while keeping the base informed and connected.”
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, JBLM remains committed to connecting and caring for the local community through virtual means.
Click here for a link to the full Wreaths Across America ceremony: https://youtu.be/quvKMv8wWwE
Joint Base Lewis-McChord
Wreaths Across America