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Veterans Commemorated in Wreath Ceremony

At the Gates of Heaven Catholic Cemetery in Sunnyvale California, dozens of family members and volunteers laid Christmas wreaths on the graves of 200 veterans who had served in the U.S. military.

Volunteers and families at cemeteries across the country were doing the same thing, marking the annual Wreaths Across America event in recognition of deceased veterans. The organization coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery and at more than 1,100 other locations across the United States — at sea and abroad — in an effort to memorialize veterans and teach future generations of the honorable sacrifices they made.

Minutes before the ceremony began at Gates of Heaven, Sunnyvale resident Lolita Asunción paid a visit to her husband’s grave. Vietnam veteran Andres Daniel Asunción died eight years ago at age 62. But for Lolita Asunción, the pain is still fresh.

“It’s a very honorable event that America is giving to veterans after what they went through,” a local resident said. “They served for their country.”

It was the first time the cemetery participated in the national event. About 100 people gathered at a portion of the cemetery dedicated to veterans. The Monta Vista High School Choir performed the national anthem and the San Francisco nonprofit Stewart Tartan Pipes and Drums performed a rendition of “Amazing Grace.” Speakers included U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Rob Ostenberg, Maj. Gen. Daniel Helix of the United States Volunteers and Army Lt. Colonel John Swensson.

The wreaths, which cost $15 each, were paid for solely through donations.

Leslie Schreiber, district commander for the American Legion in Cupertino, said the event fits the group’s mission.

‘We’re veterans. Our whole idea is to support veterans,” he said. “We couldn’t have asked for a better day.”

Many family members embraced as they placed the wreaths on the graves of their loved ones.

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