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2,000 Christmas wreaths laid for Utah's fallen veterans

Posted at 6:27 PM, Dec 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-18 20:27:31-05

BLUFFDALE, Utah — Saturday was very special for Utah’s Gold Star families and those with loved ones who have served our country.

Thousands across the nation laid Christmas wreaths down on the graves of our fallen veterans.

There were 2,000 wreaths placed at the Utah State Veterans Memorial Park.

Tony Galvez, a Gold Star father, laid down two wreaths.

"It’s a small little token of appreciation for their service, for their sacrifices," said Galvez.

The two wreaths were for Galvez's father-in-law, who served with the Marines in the Korean War, and his son Corporal Adam Galvez, who served as a Marine in the Middle East.

Cpl. Galvez died in combat in August of 2006. It was the day he had returned to service after recovering from an injury in July — his unit was hit by a bomb.

Galvez comes every year to lay a wreath in their remembrance.

"It would be nice for my son to see people appreciating what he did," said Galvez.

For Benjamin and Angela Adams, this is their first year pushing through the snow to find their loved one's grave.

The first wreath Benjamin Adams will place is for his father, Forrest Adams, who served in the Korean War.

"He was the inspiration for my oldest son David to join the Army and my youngest, Matthew, who joined the Marine Corps," Adams said. "He was a good influence on their lives."

Matthew Adams was serving at a base in California when a driver going the wrong way took his life in January of 2020.

"Those families that are yet to pay that ultimate price, my heart goes out to you," said Benjamin Adams. "It’s a heart-wrenching honor — it's the only way you can put it."

Wreaths are a Christian symbol of eternal life — with no beginning and no end, much like the sacrifice these veterans and their families pay.

"It brings to light what it means to be free and what it means to be a part of this great country," said Adams.

It's a small token recognizing the sacrifice of the fallen and the price families left behind are still paying.

"It means something to me, to see so many people come out and be appreciative for all these people have done," said Galvez.

Among those honoring the fallen was Sen. Mike Lee.

After a late-night voting session in Washington, D.C., Lee flew home to Utah, and though he missed the ceremony, he was able to pay his respects and lay a few wreaths down for veterans who served in World War II.

"My closest relative, who served in a time of war, was my grandfather to whom I was very close," Lee said. "My maternal grandfather, Ben Griffin, served in the U.S. Army during World War II."

Sen. Lee said he hopes to participate in the Wreaths Across America project annually and expressed gratitude for Utah's Gold Star families.

"I want them to know how much I appreciate, and all fellow citizens appreciate, what their families have given for our country so that we can live, so that we can be free, so that we can enjoy Christmas," Lee said.