By Elizabeth Vowell – email
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) – On the hallowed grounds of the Biloxi National Cemetery, more than 18,000 soldiers are laid to rest. Though they are gone, they are far from forgotten.
Each year, the simple act of laying a wreath on a grave is practiced throughout the county to honor fallen soldiers as a part of Wreaths Across America. While the practice began in Arlington National Cemetery, Wreaths Across America has grown into a national day of remembrance, and extends right here to Biloxi.
"I've been keeping an eye on him for about two years. He was in WWII, and for him to pass with nobody who knew him was just unfair," said Patriot Guard Rider Marta Halliburton.
Marta Halliburton and the Patriot Guard Riders spend their time caring for veterans and soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. Halliburton has three special graves in the Biloxi National Cemetery that she visits often.
"I come out on Easter, and on different events, and when we come out with Patriot Guard, I say 'Hi,'" said Halliburton.
On Saturday, Halliburton was just one of many who gathered at the cemetery as a part of Wreaths Across America.
"It's taking time to remember those who have given so much on behalf of our country. They provide our freedoms they give us the ability to gather right here and do these things," said Major David A. 'Hank' Rogers who is the commander of the Berta A. Edge Composite Squadron out of Keesler Air Force Base.
His squadron organizes the Biloxi ceremony each year.
Seven wreaths were presented at the base of the Veteran Memorial, one for each branch of the military, and one for prisoners of war and those missing in action.
"It brings back memories. It makes you think of times gone by, of Christmas's past. It also gives us pause and give us reflection to remember that the families also suffer when a loved one is lost, especially when a loved one is lost in the line a duty," said Rogers.
The ceremony takes place on December 11, each year at noon eastern time.
"They gave the ultimate sacrifice, so I could live my life. So my children can live their life. I have a son in the Air Force. Hopefully, some day someone will remember him and what he is giving up," said Halliburton.