Security assistance liaison officer reflects on participating in Wreaths Across America

By Rachel Deloach, Security Assistance Command Public AffairsJanuary 6, 2022

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – Security assistance liaison officers assigned to U.S. Army Security Assistance Command help strengthen global partnerships through the monitoring of foreign military sales cases spanning decades, during both war and peacetime.

"Countries represented in our SALO program are our partners and allies,” said USASAC SALO Program Manager Terra Good. “Many of these countries fought, and continue to fight side-by-side with American forces."

To honor the fallen military members from their home countries, the SALOs traveled to Arlington National Cemetery on December 18 to participate in Wreaths Across America – a tradition that has been taking place at America’s largest military cemetery since 2007.

SALOs Lt. Carlos Pauloni (Brazil), Lt. Col. Athanasios Natsios (Greece), Sqn. Ldr. Christiaan Meddens (Australia), Maj. Kai Chan (Taiwan) and Lt. Col. Tsuyoshi Omote (Japan) laid 10 to 20 wreaths at graves and saluted each one as they passed.

The event was especially special to Natsios who said he was astonished by the logistical aspect of the event. “Associations, private companies and organizations took the initiative to support the laying of wreaths on almost half a million tombs providing the supplies, workforce and transportation,” said Natsios.

Laying wreaths on graves, while done in Greece, is not as extensive as it is at Arlington National Cemetery. “Although Greeks honor their dead with commemorative ceremonies, there is no designated day for placing wreaths,” said Natsios. “To honor the dead, a Pericles quote is etched into the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens which reads "ΑΝΔΡΩΝ ΕΠΙΦΑ

ΝΩΝ ΠΑΣΑ ΓΗ ΤΑΦΟΣ" or “Heroes have the whole earth for their tomb.”

While laying wreaths at the graves, Natsios felt a deep appreciation for those interred within the hallowed grounds.  “I discovered the tombs of fallen Greek warriors who sacrificed their lives during WWII and the Korean War while fighting alongside our allies,” said Natsios. “I have so much appreciation for them and our ancestors.”

As an active military member, Natsios often asks himself the question, what is the valor of freedom?

“Sacrificing your life and sparing no pains are priceless and thus cannot be spoken in words,” Natsios answered. “Their mission is accomplished. Our duty is to never forget.”