MATAMORAS -On a chilly winter day, across the United States and nearby, thousands of wreaths were laid to honor those who have served and recognize them this holiday season.

Linda Kozack from the Vietnam Veterans of America Tri-State Chapter 623, said Wreaths Across America day occurs each December, where people gather to remember the fallen, honor those who serve and teach children “freedom is not free.”

Nearby, there was a service at the Veterans Memorial Park at Airport Park in Matamoras, where 24 wreaths were placed at each monument that is dedicated to the many wars American veterans have fought in. As well, wreaths were placed at each grave in the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC with more than 1,200 other sites around the country too.

The wreaths are from Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington Maine, which donates 5,000 wreaths for the day every year. Kozack said the Wreaths Across America day occurs on the third Saturday of December each year, and includes 11 tractor-trailers transporting the wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery.

This was the fifth year the Wreaths Across America was recognized at Veterans Park in Matamoras. The day, Kozack said “doesn’t let people get forgotten.”

Members of American Legions in the region were in attendance, but the service was led by the Vietnam Veterans of America Tri-State Chapter 623 once again. Kozack became involved in the day with her husband Peter who served and was a member of the American Legion in Milford.

A week before the service at Veterans Memorial Park, Kozack said wreaths were also placed at gravesites of the four “patriot veterans” Henry Cortright Middaugh, Garret VanAucken, John VanAucken, and John Ryerson who fought in the American Revolution and Indian wars near Matamoras. The veterans are buried in a cemetery on Bell Farm.

Six ceremonial wreaths were laid to honor the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines. For the 93,129 service members who are missing in action or are prisoners of war, a remembrance wreath was also placed.

The freedoms enjoyed by Americans, Kozack said “have not come without a price” and the wreaths placed were to honor the men and women who “gave their lives so we can live in freedom and without fear.” Today, the United States is a nation that “stands as a beacon of liberty and freedom to the rest of the world” and so, by laying the wreaths it was a chance to “thank those who gave their lives to keep us free and we will not forget.”

For more information about the nonprofit Wreaths Across America visit http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/.