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Military veterans honored during National Wreaths Across America Day

Staff Sgt. Makayla Cordell, member of the 134th Air Refueling Wing, places a wreath on the headstone of a military veteran as part of a National Wreaths Across America Day event Dec. 15. More than 500 volunteers from East Tennessee placed over 1,900 wreaths on graves as a way to remember and honor those who have served and sacrificed. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Darby Arnold)

McGhee Tyson ANG Base, Tenn. --

Over 500 volunteers from East Tennessee joined forces Dec. 15 to place wreaths on the headstones of military veterans at three Knoxville-area cemeteries.  

The collective gesture was part of National Wreaths Across America Day, which takes place the third Saturday of December each year as a way to honor men and women who, for generations, have answered the nation’s call. 

“It meant a great deal to be a part of something so special,” said Staff Sgt. Makayla Cordell, a member of the 134th Air Refueling Wing. “It was really humbling to see how supportive the local community is of our military and veterans.”

After a small ceremony, volunteers dispersed across the three cemeteries to place approximately 1,900 wreaths on headstones. As wreaths were placed, the names of the veterans were read aloud.

Jessica Callihan, a Navy veteran and volunteer, said it meant everything to her to be able to honor her fallen brothers and sisters.

“This tradition shows that although they are gone from this world, we have not forgotten them,” Callihan said.

The annual event is organized by Wreaths Across America, a non-profit organization focused on remembering fallen veterans from the Revolutionary War through present-day conflicts, and takes places at more than 1,400 locations across the U.S., at sea and abroad. More information can be found at www.wreathsacrossamerica.com.