PORT HUDSON, LA (WAFB) - More than 100 people gathered at Port Hudson National Cemetery to honor military veterans by placing wreaths at their grave sites.
"We're proud today to honor them, in this special and deserving way, for they have all gone on to glory, so these wreaths of love we proudly lay," recited one presenter at a ceremony on the cemetery grounds.
The event was part of a nationwide program called Wreaths Across America, which included other cemeteries like Arlington National Cemetery just outside of Washington, D.C.
In Port Hudson, they began the event with a ceremony, presenting wreaths representing each branch of the military, the Merchant Marines, as well as prisoners of war and those missing in action.They also put wreaths on more than 6,000 of the cemetery's 13,000 grave sites.
Marshall Honore participated in the event, helping place a wreath at the tombstone of his wife, Grace. Honore served in World War II. He arrived in France two weeks after D-Day and served throughout the remainder of the war.
"We lived just one day at a time. We didn't know when the war was going to end or if we'd ever get back home but we just served and we did what we had to do," he said.
Across the cemetery, another family remembered the veteran of a much more recent conflict: the War in Iraq.
Claudia Billiot placed a wreath at the grave of her sister, Marisol. Marisol joined the army right out of high school. During her first tour in Iraq, she was killed in an explosion at just 19 years old.
"To have her gone was like half of me gone," she said.
Although she said the loss of her sister never gets any easier, she does take comfort in gatherings like this one.
"You're not alone, you're not the only one going through this," she said. "It's a sense of unity."
She named one of her children after Marisol. She hopes to teach her children the importance of visiting the grave and remembering those who served.
"They continue living as long as we honor them," she said.
Many of the wreaths came from Maine. Volunteer truck drivers brought them to Louisiana.