Fort Bragg Gold Star wife honors late husband, others with Wreaths Across America

SPRING LAKE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The American flag flies, swaying ever so sweetly in the chilly November breeze.

The same 50 stars and 13 stripes stand in small form, perfectly placed at the headstone of near 6,200 veterans at Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery in Spring Lake, just outside of Fort Bragg.

Britt Harris, a Gold Star wife, walks to the resting spot of her husband, Army Specialist Chris Harris.

Two miniature bottles of Jameson sit on top of his stone. Britt says that's his choice of drink. The bottles serve as evidence that old friends have been by.

It's been just over two years since Harris lost his life while deployed in Afghanistan, but Britt has yet to yield in keeping her husband's memory - or the memory of the fallen soldiers around him - alive.

"If Chris could see you now, what do you think he would say?" I ask. "I think he would be proud of me. I think he would tell me that I'm doing a good job being a good mom and that I'm doing a good job trying to keep his name alive... at least that's what I hope he would say."

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It's in this cemetery that Chris and their daughter, Christian, meet for birthdays, Father's day, and soon, Christmas. For Britt, the grief hasn't stopped. It comes in waves. Sometimes the waves don't surge for days or weeks. Sometimes the grief lasts for months. A lot of the grief stirs around the holidays.

"So when you can see around those holidays that people are going to come out and remember you and your soldier, it makes it a little more bearable," Britt says.

Britt's mission as the holidays approach is finding volunteers and sponsors for wreaths to lay on graves at the Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery, taking part in Wreaths Across America. The nonprofit started over a decade ago in effort to expand the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

"It's heartwarming to see people come out and individually, one-by-one, say the name of the soldier and place the wreath. It makes us know as the families that they're not forgotten," Britt said.

You can volunteer to lay a wreath or for $15 you can sponsor a veteran having a wreath laid on their grave. So far at Sandhills State, of the 6,200 heroes at rest, just under 1,200 have been sponsored.
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