Updated: 12/14/2013 5:23 PM
Created: 12/14/2013 2:32 PM KSTP.com
By: Josh Rosenthal
At Fort Snelling National Cemetery Saturday, hundreds came to remember, to honor, to teach.
The concept of Wreaths Across America Day is simple: donated wreaths are placed on veteran's graves to show that their sacrifice hasn't been forgotten. The feelings that come with the wreaths, however, are a lot more complex.
"Today for me, it's a personal thing," explained Paul Van Brunt, a Vietnam veteran. He remembers coming home from the unpopular war and feeling forgotten. "The worst thing that can happen, in my opinion, is just forgetting about somebody's service and what they've done. At least the honor and even a negative comment is better than none at all."
That's why the wreaths mean so much to Van Brunt. It's also why he makes sure a younger generation - like Kayla Frandrup and Matthew Johnson, both in the Civil Air Patrol - understand the importance of the wreaths too.
"I believe all civilians owe their civilian life to people who have served," said Frandrup.
Added Johnson, "it's a very surreal feeling, looking down, reading the name, reading where the people were, what they did, what year they died."
As for Van Brunt, there's another reason that placing the wreaths is so important to him. He plans to be buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery one day too and hopes that someone else will do the same for him.
As he put it, "I want to be buried here with the rest of the combat veterans that served their country proudly."
Served their country proudly -- and haven't been forgotten.
Earlier this week KSTP reported about a lack of funding for wreaths to honor soldiers this year. The issue is not just in Minnesota, it’s nationwide.
At Fort Snelling National Cemetery there will be 1,000 less than last year, and 120,000 graves at Arlington National won't receive wreaths.
Learn how you can sponsor a wreath for next year here.