Cadets to honor veterans

AFJROTC participates in Wreaths Across America to lay wreaths


photo or infographic by Courtesy Photo

Former cadet laying wreath at gravestone. AFJROTC will be returning this year to take part in wreath laying.

by Kelsey Soape, VOW editor


Cadets and community citizens fill the center arena on a chilly December Saturday for the opening ceremony of Wreaths Across America. Stares of admiration are on all honorary guests and veterans as cheering and celebrations of life commence. 

The simple act of placing a wreath on a grave at Houston National Cemetery is much more than an act of spreading Christmas cheer. The AFJROTC cadets will gather to participate in the annual wreath laying on December 14 to honor the men and women who have served their country.

Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Bell is overseeing the cadets as they participate in the fundraising and encouraging them every step along the way. 

“Cadets will be selling wreaths until December 1,” Bell said. “The wreath laying ceremony will be December 14 at the Houston National Cemetery.” 

Bell has set high expectations for cadets in the program, not only to raise the money, but to understand the meaning behind the event.

“Our corp goal is to sell 1,000 wreaths among our cadets,” Bell said.  “What I want the cadets to take out of this experience is who we are celebrating and why we are celebrating them. I think it’s important that they understand what the truths are behind the event.”

The event means a lot to cadets as well, getting to celebrate those who sacrificed their lives. 

“I really enjoy the wreath laying. It reminds you of all the people who sacrificed their lives for us,” sophomore Johnathan Willard said. “They gave it all for us. I think the wreath laying and honoring them is just a small token of our appreciation for them during the holidays.”

The tradition before the actual placing of the wreaths is a favorite for some of the cadets.

̈My favorite part is actually the ceremony they have prior to the wreath laying,” junior Olivia Bell said. “They honor a lot of veterans, and we all get to cheer and celebrate.”

New cadets who are taking part in the event for the first time this year are optimistic and excited to be able to participate in such a meaningful day. 

“I’m excited. I think it will be a good experience,” freshman Madelyn McGraw said. “I think it is important for cadets to be involved in the community.”

Returning cadets who have participated in the event in past years have grown to have a deeper, meaningful understanding of why wreaths are laid and have a different sense of appreciation every year they go. 

“It gives the cadets a sense of belonging and togetherness when we all come together and put aside all differences to celebrate the people who gave it all for us,”  senior cadet Lt. Col. Dustin Baldwin. “When all of our cadets come together to do something like this it shows the corps commitment to serving the community.”

According to the cadets, they realize that the reason everyone is able to celebrate the holiday season is because of the bravery and courage of every man and woman who died for our country. It is import to preserve their identity and remember them forever.

“Wreaths Across America is a good way of remembering those who have served our country and showing them that they will never be forgotten,” senior Noe McGraw said. “Not only is it serving your community but it can be a good tradition to start with your family.”

Please visit to purchase a wreath.