ZACHARY, LA (WAFB) - Each December, a special day is set aside to honor veterans who've paid the ultimate sacrifice. The Baton Rouge Wreaths Across America ceremony takes place every year at the Port Hudson National Cemetery.
For the past eight years, Louise Strong has played a big part in organizing the event. It is a love that began during her first ceremony, one she remembers like it was yesterday.
"As I entered the site, I was so taken aback with these beautiful wreaths," Strong said.
Every year, the evergreen arrangements are placed at the graves of sons, daughters, and loved ones who have passed on. "Because they've served our country, they've sacrificed, and now we want to honor them," Strong added.
Honoring these heroes is no easy task. Strong said the undertaking is a year-long effort and even Friday night in her southeast Baton Rouge home, she is putting the finishing touches on seven wreaths. Six of them represent a different branch of the Armed Forces. "The seventh one represents the missing in action prisoner of war," she said.
The labor of love that goes into organizing the event is personal for Strong. "My dad was in the Army and my uncle was in the Coast Guard," Strong said. "I have relatives in the Marines. I have relatives in every branch of the service."
This year, she said the ceremony will be even more special for the Baton Rouge community because the three officers killed in the line of duty this summer will be honored alongside fallen veterans. "Two of those officers were not actually military, but it was important for them to serve and to do for their city and their parish," Strong added.
While the ceremony is usually emotional, she said it is also a chance for loved ones all over the country to keep the memory of these fallen heroes alive. "Tomorrow is the opportunity, no matter where they are, to stand and loudly say thank you. I have not forgotten and I will not forget," she said.
Saturday's ceremony will begin promptly at 11 a.m. at the Port Hudson National Cemetery in Zachary. It is free and open to the public.
For more information about Wreaths Across America, click here.