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Laying of the Wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery

Over the weekend Gale Doggette and her niece Traci Parkinson Suber traveled to Virginia for the Laying of the Wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery. Doggette and Suber were among thousands of volunteers who braved the rainy weather to gather at Arlington National Cemetery for the annual holiday wreath-laying event. Every December for the past 27 years Wreaths Across America places wreaths on the graves at Arlington and other veterans’ cemeteries to pay tribute to those who served in the U.S. armed forces and died in America’s wars.

This event was very emotional and meaningful to both Doggette and Suber , they were privileged to pay tribute to honorable men and women while celebrating the life and recognition of two very special people. Doggette was honored to lay a wreath at her husband’s grave and Suber at her grandfather’s. In 2015 Doggette’s husband James was ceremonially laid to rest at Arlington. Col. James C Doggette Jr. was an Air Force Fighter pilot and Exchange pilot for the US Navy flying off the USS Shanghai carrier. Col Doggette is a graduate of USC and The Naval War College, Test pilot for the US Air Force and Base Commander at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Goldsboro NC after which he ended his career as Base Commander of Hancock Field in Syracuse NY. “This was an extremely emotional and honorable moment for me,” said Doggette “I often visit my husband’s grave several times during the years but this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity participate in the Laying of the Wreaths event, I was flooded with emotion while at the same time filled with somber pride,” she said.

This was an extra special occasion for Doggette to have her niece share in the experience. Suber’s grandfather Harold Downes was laid to rest in 2008 at Arlington. “I have been wanting to go to Arlington and visit for ten years since we buried my grandaddy and grandmother in March of 2008, it has been weighing on me for years to come visit him,” said Suber. PFC Harold Benedict Downes was an honorable U.S. Army soldier and served in World War II. PFC Downes was awarded the distinguished Purple Heart for his bravery, dedication to country and valor. “I knew the day would be emotional, but I certainly wasn’t prepared to feel so overcome with emotion, I actually sat with Granddaddy for a few minutes and had a very difficult time leaving,” said Suber. “It was raining the entire time, but we didn’t care, the moment was much bigger than the weather,” she said. “Regardless of the rain, it was worth every emotional and memorable second to be there on hollow ground amongst so many vets who served our country,” said Doggette.

Both Doggette and Suber plan to return every year to participate in the event. “Gale and I are hoping to make this an annual trip,” said Suber. “It was such an honor to be able to participate in Wreaths Across America, and the most amazing and humbling experience to be surrounded by so many heroes,” she said. This year, Wreaths Across America shipped 1.75 million wreaths to be laid in 1,640 locations across the U.S. and a few dozen locations overseas and for the first year was granted permission to place wreaths at Normandy France to honor those who died during World War II’s D-Day invasion.

Cokeitha Gaddist (59 Posts)