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Wreathes Across America Honor Fallen Veterans

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LAWTON, Okla._

Fallen veterans were honored all across America Saturday as wreathes were laid on their grave sights at noon.

There were several ceremonies held  in Comanche County.

Lawton's local chapter of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association participated honoring fallen heroes at Highland Cemetery on Fort Sill Boulevard.

They may have been laid to rest, but they are not forgotten.

Each military veteran honored during a colors ceremony. 

After a moment of silence, a wreathe for each branch of the military was taken to a headstone that honors all fallen veterans.

Gary Normandin is a veteran himself, and a member of the Combat Vets Motorcycle Association.

He said there is no experience more humbling than carrying a wreathe to the grave.

"Coming here and honoring the personnel that paved the road for prior to us coming in, it's an honor, indeed," said Normandin.

When he looks at the one lone headstone, representing those heroes who have left us, he sees his brothers and sisters.

He says though he may have never known these individuals personally he feels a sense of connection.

"For me...it's a sense of pride that I'm a part of this. Not only because I've been deployed but because all of these people, the veterans that came before us, they're the ones that actually allow us the freedom to do what we want to do today," said Normandin.

He says when standing at a grave site, thoughts and images of his past deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan come flooding back.

"You never really get rid of the memories of what goes on and will continue to go on here. But it's a solemn experience. It just really makes you look at yourself and say hey, I understand what these other guys have been through and what they've done for their country and I'm here to honor them," said Normandin.

Local Wreathes Across America Director Karolyn Anders said veterans regardless of branch fend for each other both in and outside of war.

Starting last year she says her brother a military veteran pushed for a greater participation in the program after he felt  fallen veterans were not being honored as they should be.

Two years ago she says only six wreathes were laid at Fort Sill's National cemetery in Elgin, and wanted to do something to change that.

"He made it his mission to identify as many veteran braves as possible within Comanche County. He identified over 9,000, took over 10,000 pictures in order to get it off the ground last year," said Anders.

Because of people like Anders brother Wreathes Across America unites veterans like him with millions of others across the country.

"It's neat...it's like being in the Army. You're a part of a big organization, doing a great thing for others," said Normandin.

This is the second year Comanche County has participated in wreathes across America.

Each year the program has continued to grow.

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