Remember, honor, and teach. Those are the goals of the Wreaths Across America program, through which wreaths will be placed on the graves of veterans at Arlington National Cemetery and at 28 cemeteries across Michigan this Saturday.
David Watts coordinates the event for the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, where this year nearly 9,000 wreaths will be placed, thanks to community donations and sponsorships.
"We've more than doubled our efforts from last year," Watts says, "and I would love one day to be able to cover that whole cemetery to honor every one of those guys and gals that are buried in that cemetery."
The wreath-laying ceremonies are open to the public. A listing of the times and locations for Saturday's events, as well as sponsorship information, is available at WreathsAcrossAmerica.org.
Watts, who first got involved with Wreaths Across America as a way to honor his grandfather, says the event has a different meaning for everyone who attends.
"For some it's the loss and to show that people care," he explains. "For me, it's an honor. I am happier every year when I see the number of wreaths."
As the number of sponsorships for wreaths grows, so too does the number of deceased veterans. The U.S. Veteran's Administration estimates that World War II veterans are dying at a rate of 600 per day.