The annual tradition to honor the servicemen and women brought out the best in Americans this weekend at the Fort Sill Post Cemetery. “We started this tradition in New Jersey around 2013, and we have been doing all over the United States since” says Kristen Henry. As she takes the time to look around the cemetery, she couldn’t tell you how many hours her charity the “School of Athens” has invested into this project. It all started when the co-founder of the children’s and veteran’s nonprofit charity, Michael McGill III had to choose to put a wreath on the grave of an unknown soldier or one that had a name. Michael asked his father “which one should I pick?” His father told him that is something that he must decide on his own. Michael was not sure if he made the right decision by placing it on the unknown’s grave. Later on that day in the car ride home, Michael asked his father if the charity could take on the project of providing every unknown soldier with a wreath. It did not take long at all for the charity to agree that this is exactly what our charity does.
After 16 weeks of planning and asking for donations, The School of Athens was able to raise enough money to buy 213 wreaths. Now it was time to reach out and find volunteers to wake up early on a weekend and step out into a very cold December morning. It was not too hard to find people that were no stranger to selfless service. Cullen O’Neill and Carrick Porter, Field Artillery officers from Fort Sill, were the first to show up and jump right in. “Being an American and getting a chance to honor the fallen like this just felt like it was my duty to be part of this,” says Cullen O’Neill. Without partnering up with the Silent War Foundation, this would not have been possible. Shane Mason, a Army Veteran brought out volunteers from his charity because of the emotional impact this has on the families on fallen warriors.
It is important that the children be involved in this. They are the future that will eventually watch over us as we have done for these heroes. This is something that they love doing and it really shows when they are saying the names of the fallen or just placing their hand on the graves of the unknown. These children that you see today will be the future leaders of our country and we have a chance to instill the values that will guarantee nothing but greatness from them.
If you would like to volunteer or donate you can visit the School of Athens Facebook page.