Fallen veterans honored at Santa Fe National Cemetery

SANTA FE, N.M. – The holiday season is a time for us to surround ourselves with family, but these few weeks can be somber to the families of many New Mexico veterans.

On Saturday, there were new efforts to honor those we’ve lost at the Santa Fe National Cemetery for an event that’s held nationwide.

“It is indeed cold here today and I don’t think it dampened the spirits of anyone here,” said Capt. Ryan Stark with the New Mexico Civil Patrol. 

Stark with is talking about the annual “Wreaths Across America” event, and not even the winter wind could stop the important work being done. 

“Today we are assisting in laying down over 4,000 wreaths on the graves here at the National Cemetery in Santa Fe,” said Stark. 

Civil Air Patrol cadets were out early Saturday morning to help lay wreaths. 

New Mexico Organizer, Thomas Vialpando, says every year he’s trying to up the number of wreaths they can lay.

“Last year we put 2,300 graves, this year we’re putting 4,500 graves. It’s a drop in the bucket because they’re 67,000 buried here,” said Vialpando. 

Thomas says there’s a bit of ceremony of laying the wreaths. Once you find which grave you’re going to lay it on, you say their full name and lay it on their grave, and to thank them for their service by saluting them. 

“For our cadets especially it’s a great profound honor, and it’s been amazing today for me to see cadets you know place their wreath on the grave,” Stark said. 

Thomas says it’s a small gesture that can mean so much to the families. 

“The sole purpose is to cover the graves to honor and remember them, that’s what this whole event is about,” said Vialpando. 

Thomas is hoping to increase the number of wreaths they can lay at the cemetery. He hopes to one day be able to lay one at each of the 67,000 graves.