KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Volunteers honored veterans Saturday by placing wreaths on the graves of those laid to rest at Leavenworth National Cemetery.
The annual tradition is hosted by a national group called Wreaths Across America.
Every year, Kansas City-based group Team Fidelis sponsors section 50 of the cemetery, raising money for the wreaths laid in that area of the cemetery. Section 50 is sponsored because of one veteran in particular: Elias Michael Wade.
Wade is a marine who died by suicide while serving in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in 2017.
Wade's father said this tradition helps keep his son's memory alive.
"It means a lot, laying your loved one to rest, especially a child, it means a lot to be able to come and remember them," he said. "For everyone that has a loved one buried here, just a great way to honor that loved one, that veteran that served their country, and not only honors that veteran, but it honors the family and just means the world to not forget them."
Every time someone lays a wreath on a grave, the veteran's name is said out loud so that veteran is not forgotten.
Team Fidelis was able to raise enough money to buy more than 500 wreaths this year, but their section has more than 900 graves. They said they're hoping to raise enough money for more wreaths next year. Fundraising for 2022 already opened on the Wreaths Across America website.
Through Jan. 14, Wreaths Across America will match every wreath donation made to Team Fidelis to help provide a wreath for every grave in section 50.