'It gives me goosebumps': Moving wreath tribute honors Midlands veterans

WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The ninth annual Wreaths Across America Ceremony at Fort Jackson National Cemetery will happen next month.

But before the ceremony, organizers need your help sponsoring one of the more than 5,000 wreaths that will be laid on the graves of Midlands veterans.

That includes veterans like Lance Corporal Dale Moss who passed away a year ago this week.

"I didn't come out last year because that was shortly after he passed away," said Lance Cp. Moss' brother Loren. "It hit me pretty hard."

It is still hard for veteran Loren Moss to visit his younger brother Dale's grave site. Dale passed away from a medical condition at the age of 68 on Nov. 7, 2016.

"We were best friends, not just brothers," added Loren.

While Loren served in the Navy, his brother Dale was in the Marine Corps. Both have been active in the American Legion since moving to Columbia in 2010, and Loren says his brother Dale never missed a chance to honor other vets through the Patriot Guard.

"He was [at Fort Jackson National Cemetery] every year since we've been here, putting out the wreaths," said Loren.

But with Dale's passing last year, it was the first holiday season in which others would pay tribute to him.

"While it was bittersweet to be honoring him in the same way by placing his wreath, it lets you know really quick that it's an honor and a responsibility for all of us to be here to honor our veterans," said Carol Davis, the state director for Wreaths Across America in South Carolina.

While Loren says he was too emotional to be the one to place a wreath on Dale's grave last year, he'll be out at the cemetery this December. He adds he's grateful for those who year after year choose to remember our service men and women around the holidays.

"Just about every time I come out if I don't get at least misty, which I'm starting to right now, just seeing the rows upon rows of headstones with the wreaths gives me goosebumps," said Loren.

Davis adds they need about 1800 more wreaths sponsored to be able to put a wreath on all 5,000 graves out at Fort Jackson National Cemetery.

Each wreath is just 15 dollars, and there is a special form to fill out. Click here to download the form to sponsor a wreath for a veterans' grave.

The deadline to sponsor a wreath is November 27th. The ceremony will be held on Saturday, December 16th at the cemetery. Parking will be at the Blue Cross Blue Shield parking lot on Percival Road and volunteers or those who wish to attend the ceremony will be able to shuttle across to the cemetery.

If you'd like to learn more about the Wreaths Across America movement click here: http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.

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