Those who lost family to war come together to honor sacrifice - KCTV5

Those who lost family to war come together to honor sacrifice

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The holidays can be tough when your loved ones can't be with you, but those who lost family to war are coming together to honor their sacrifice.

"I lost my oldest son David Unger in Iraq in 2006," said Diana Pitts.

"It doesn't subtract from the fact I still miss Sean everyday," said Betty Wright.

Wright and Pitts share a heartbreaking bond neither of them ever wanted. They are Gold Star mothers.

"A Gold Star Mother is a mother who has lost a son or daughter on active duty serving our country," Wright said.

In 2010, Pitts decided to bring a fairly new program, started just a few years earlier, to Ft. Leavenworth National Cemetery where her son and 17 other military family members are buried.

Wreaths Across America began in 2008 by a wreath company in Maine. The owner had more than 5,000 wreaths left over after Christmas orders were filled. He called Arlington National Cemetery and asked to donate them to place on fallen military men and women's graves.

"The holidays are always hard, and we had a recent burial and the family was overjoyed that their loved one had a wreath on their grave," Pitts said.

This year more than 143,000 wreaths were laid in more than 900 locations including Pearl Harbor and a base in Afghanistan.

Wright lost her son in Sean in 1991.

"It seems like we have been trying to give back and pay it forward ever since and it's very rewarding because it's one more way to touch someone's life that has given everything for this country," she said.

At Ft. Leavenworth each year the goal is raised and more wreaths are laid. In 2010, the first year, just more than 500 wreaths were placed. This year more than 2,700 wreaths were donated to decorate the men and women buried at the cemetery.

But both Pitts and Wright say Wreaths Across America is about much more than the wreath itself.

"The mission statement of WAA is ‘remember honor and teach.' Remember our fallen, honor our active duty and our vets, and teach our children that freedom is not free, there is a price for their freedom," Wright said.

Next year the goal is to cover the entire cemetery, that's more than 22,000 grave sites. Click here to learn more about Wreaths Across America.

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