Cadets honor veterans by selling wreaths, volunteering at wreath-laying event


photo or infographic by Wildkat Media on Canva

REMEMBER THE FALLEN. Members of the AFJROTC will volunteer as part of Wreaths Across America in Dec. 18.

Every year as the holidays draw near, students look forward to time spent with family, a break from school, and receiving gifts from those around them. While their friends are engaged with other activities surrounding the holidays, cadets in AFJROTC will give up some of their time during Christmas Break to lay wreaths on the graves of veterans, a simple but meaningful gesture to those who sacrificed their time, energy and even their lives for the defense of the nation. 

On Saturday Dec. 18th, cadets in AFJROTC will participate in the annual wreath laying ceremony sponsored by Wreaths Across America. The event at Houston National Cemetery will be coordinated alongside approximately 2,500 cemeteries across the country, at sea and abroad. 

The students step up every year to make a difference and reflect on the lives of those who answered the call to serve. 

“The reward itself is taking care of the veterans who have passed away and our kids get that,” Sgt. Bell said. “It is a great opportunity for kids to reflect on what someone has done for them.”

The journey to the wreath laying ceremony starts months in advance for the cadets. A fundraiser campaign is launched, and cadets are responsible for seeking donations to purchase wreaths for the graves. 

“We sent out emails to the parents and cadets when we set it up in August,” Bell said. “We try to set it up as early as possible, and we are currently halfway to our goal of $20,000.”

Cadets and their families work together to raise money to honor veterans. 

“I have asked all of my family and they have asked their friends to raise money for the wreaths,” sophomore James Walker said.

Some families have a deeper connection to those that they are honoring this year. 

“They’ve been very enthusiastic to help out because they have lost a lot of their buddies when they were shipped out, and it means a lot to them to help out,” freshman Madalynne Dunn said. 

Cadets see the effort to honor veterans as more than any ordinary fundraiser. 

“I think that it shows the respect that you have for fallen soldiers from World War II and all the other wars that happened throughout the world,” senior Collin Dio said. 

After months of raising funds, cadets are given the opportunity to help lay wreaths by sacrificing some of their time over Christmas Break. The effort to make a difference provides a valuable life lesson for cadets. 

“It shows that you’re willing to spend your day laying wreaths for fallen soldiers instead of sitting around the house,” Dio said. 

Laying wreaths on the graves goes a long way in honoring the lives of veterans from our area and shows that they will always be remembered. 

“These folks in the cemetery have died well before 9/11, and you can’t let people forget where they have come from,” Bell said. “It’s important to let people know someone cares for them.”