A moment of silence was observed at Volusia Memorial Park on Saturday, Dec. 17, as people bowed their heads, the sound of passing cars on the nearby road echoing through the cemetery.
The annual Wreaths Across America ceremony was one of over 3,400 held throughout the U.S. to thank and honor deceased veterans and their families. Similar moments of silence were observed at ceremonies held at nearby Hillside Cemetery and Oak Ridge Cemetery in Ormond Beach, and at Craig Flagler Palms Funeral Home and Cemetery in Flagler Beach.
"There are millions of Americans gathering safely as one nation to remember, honor and teach," said Brian Carter, Wreaths Across America location coordinator at Volusia Memorial Park. "We're all proud to be Americans that live in a free society made up of many people, from many walks of life. The freedom we enjoy today has not come without a price — lying here before us in this cemetery, and throughout the nation, are men and women who gave their lives so that we can live free, without fear."
About 2,500 balsam wreaths were laid on veterans' graves at Volusia Memorial Park in Ormond Beach, costing around $30,000, and funded thanks to a year-long donation effort by the Sons of The American Legion Squadron 120.
New this year to the ceremonies was the addition of a ceremonial wreath for the U.S. Space Force.
At Hillside Cemetery, Dee Clark, Wreaths Across America co-chair for the Capt. James Ormond Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, reminded participants that they were not there to "decorate graves."
"We are here to remember not their deaths, but their lives," Clark said. "Each wreath is a gift of appreciation from a grateful America."
The DAR presented wreaths on 145 soldier's graves at Hillside. The Oak Ridge cemetery ceremony was presented by the Vietnam Veterans of America Daytona Beach Chapter 1048. The ceremony at Craig Flagler Palms Funeral Home and Cemetery honored over 400 veterans.
Jake Montgomery contributed to this story.