Ending 2020 by being selfless

FROM STAFF REPORTS / Editorial 

Every year, volunteers take time out of their day to lay live balsam wreaths at each gravesite in the Alabama National Cemetery, and it’s a tradition that never gets old.

On Friday, Dec. 18, the 2020 edition of the event took place, and for the 12th consecutive year, there was a wreath laid in front of each of the more than 8,500 memorials in the cemetery.

Normally, the program draws near 3,000 volunteers and attendees to take part in the special day, which usually includes a program, but this year looked different.

There were less volunteers and the ceremony was an intimate setting featuring social distancing.

But the sentiment remained the same.

In a year that was dominated by COVID-19 as well as election and racial tension, it might have been even more special to see many come together to honor those who put their lives on the line by fighting for our country and freedom.

It’s a powerful moment to look up and see 59 acres of land with similar headstones and the same wreath with the same red bow in front of all of them.

Brothers and sisters in arms, they fought with one goal, protecting each of us, and it’s a duty many of us take for granted.

During a moment of silence held as part of the ceremony, family members got to remember loved ones, while it gave many others the opportunity to think about all that this year represented.

In that moment, it was easy to realize that despite the difficulties we’ve faced this year, 2020 was nothing compared to what many of the more than 8,000 in that cemetery had to see on a daily basis while putting others before themselves.

We often times worry too much about how something is going to affect us or we are careless because something won’t affect us, and that seemed to be on display this past year more than many before.

But not a single person buried inside the Alabama National Cemetery was that way. They thought of everyone but themselves, and for that, we say thank you.

We are thinking of those families who were missing loved ones over Christmas and are now missing them going into the new year.

In 2021, let’s try to remember what each of those wreaths represents. Let’s come together and think of others before ourselves.