Gone But Not Forgotten

Gone But Not Forgotten

Written at the height of World War II, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” is a song that still carries meaning today, especially as America enters her second decade of the War on Terror. During the holiday season, we are reminded of, and pause to reflect upon, those who have returned to us, and those who will not. Christmas, in addition to birthdays and anniversaries, can be one of the loneliest times of the year for the families of the fallen.

In a few days, families will travel far and wide to be together. Yet, for those lost, there will be an empty chair at the table this year, and in all the years to follow.

Wreaths Across America embodies the very best of the holiday spirit. By paying our respects to these men and women through the simple act of placing a wreath, we let their families know their brave warriors will always be with them.

I could write endlessly about the ways to honor our fallen servicemembers. No one way being better than any other way, but just taking the time to honor those who risked, and in many cases gave, their lives in defense of this nation is something all Americans should do.

That has been the mission of Wreaths Across America for the past 20 years. Those involved with this tradition dedicate significant time and energy into making sure that the veterans of this nation are not forgotten at Christmas.

On December 15, thousands gathered at our national cemeteries across the nation to lay wreaths. This year, Wreaths Across America surpassed all previous years, placing more wreaths than ever before, and reached the 1 millionth wreath milestone. That is how important this simple display of honor has become.

This Christmas, think of our soldiers, Marines, sailors, airmen, and Coastsguardmen who are far from home protecting each of you, and say a prayer for those we have lost and their families as you gather around the Christmas tree with your own loved ones. We can all do more to help these families, but the most important at this special time of year is letting them know their loved ones are still beloved by all of us.

Merry Christmas.

— Rep. Jeff Miller is Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.