FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – A Christmas wreath was placed in front of every grave Saturday at the Fort Smith National cemetery. 

“This year was definitely interesting because we didn’t have Christmas honors last year because of COVID. I think the community rallied behind Christmas honors this year because he was a missed tradition last in the community,” says Justin Legris, Second Lieutenant for the Arkansas National Guard. 

Saturday morning was the 13th annual Christmas Honors event put on at Fort Smith National Cemetery. 

At the event, a Christmas wreath was put in front of every one of the 16,000 graves. Founder of the event, Philip Merry, says seeing it all come together is better than he can even put in words. 

“You and I would not be able to do what we’re doing if they did not do what they did,” says Merry. 

Before the public went out to place the wreaths, the Mayor of Fort Smith was able to say a couple of words, along with Legris, who’s been participating in the event since he was a student at Southside Fort Smith. 

“This is a great time to celebrate the veterans we have, but also celebrate the veterans that we see every day,” says Legris. 

But what Legris and Merry say meant the most to them was the number of people who took time out of their Saturday morning. 

“It’s a special experience to see everybody come to support those who have fallen, but all the living veterans also,” says Legris.  

“This is a way that we can let them know that we will never forget, we will always appreciate it, and we will keep trying to adequately thank you,” says Merry.