USS Theodore Roosevelt Sailors Honor Fallen Heroes During Holiday Season
More than 50 Sailors assigned to USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) gathered at Hampton National Cemetery in Hampton, Va., Dec. 15 to honor fallen service members by laying wreaths on tombstones as part of “Wreaths Across America.”
The event featured more than 5,000 wreaths laid by military units and Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets from around the area. TR Sailors were on hand to help coordinate the day’s activities, provide a sound system, and participate in the set up and distribution of the ceremonial wreaths.
“Theodore Roosevelt was a major player today. We had max participation,” said Senior Chief Aviation Electronics Technician (AW/SW) James Beckwith, who led the trip to the cemetery from TR. “Our Sailor’s professionalism was definitely noticed by some of the senior people here.”
“Wreaths Across America” began in 1992 when Morrill Worcester, the owner of a wreath company, started donating wreaths to decorate veterans’ graves. Today, his act of generosity has grown into a nationwide movement, involving almost 800 cemeteries and hundreds of thousands of wreaths.
James Beckwith’s wife, Maribel Beckwith, one of the location co-coordinators for the event, said having the Sailors participate made a big impact.
“The Sailors showed up here bright and early this morning and have been working very hard,” said Maribel Beckwith.
The event kicked off with a small ceremony to honor deceased veterans from each branch of the military, including those who were missing in action or being held as prisoners of war. Rear Adm. Tim Alexander, commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic, the keynote speaker for the event, said it was an important way to remember those who gave their lives for their country.
“This is all about recognizing the service and sacrifice of our veterans,” said Alexander. “Thank you for coming out to support this extremely important event, particularly the Sailors from TR who worked really hard today.”
After his speech, Alexander laid the first wreath, followed by thousands of servicemembers and cadets, who each took their time going from grave to grave and laying their wreaths with care.
“It’s touching. It’s a really symbolic gesture to be able to lay a wreath on a fallen servicemembers’ grave,” said James Beckwith. “It feels really good to be a part of this.”
Maribel Beckwith said the event would not have been the same without the participation of the Sailors, and she hopes to expand their role even further next year.
“This is a national day of remembrance, and it happens every year,” said Maribel Beckwith. “Next year I hope to have an even better turnout here.”
Naval Today Staff, December 20, 2012; Image: