VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A raw December morning began with lines of people visiting hallowed ground. Families hugged and traded solemn whispers of memories against a backdrop of rolling green hills lined with white stones.
Arlington National Cemetery inspires awe — the feeling of how blessed one is to walk among those who literally gave themselves for all of us. But on that wintry morning in 2013, among the families cloaked in reverence for buried loved ones, was a young woman on a mission. She is the organizer of “Team Bear,” a group that lays Christmas wreaths against the headstones of buried heroes.
“It was like Christmas morning,” Breanna Roe Kingsbury recalled of that day.
Kingsbury and her team raised more than $22,000 last year, enough for nearly 1,500 wreaths for the veterans buried at Arlington — more than any other team nationwide. She’s already started raising money for this year’s Wreaths Across America event on December 13, and wants to get 2,000 wreaths, or $30,000 to reach her goal.
“There’s something about being in the presence of heroes,” said Kingsbury, who’s husband serves in the Navy. She and other military spouses feel a connection from the long separations endured and the gratitude when that separation ends.
“My husband has come home safe every time,” she said in a soft, almost careful tone. She understands that could change with the next deployment, which is one of the reasons why she became a military liaison for Congressmen Scott Rigell and works tirelessly for military causes. Wreath’s Across America is near and dear to her heart because of what it represents.
“When you walk the grounds of Arlington, it really brings home how much we appreciate the sacrifice. I’ve been hearing from all these different states of people wanting to come. With less than one percent serving in the military, so many feel a disconnect. What does such a sacrifice look like?”
On the day my wife and I joined Kingsbury and “Team Bear” last year, it looked like a sea of perfectly lined white stones warmed by holiday wreaths. Volunteers from all over the country roamed the grounds carefully placing these living tributes against each marker.
“You just feel so humbled by what they’re willing to do for perfect strangers,” Kingsbury said. “We’re doing it for the service members and for the families they left behind. It means so much to them that people who didn’t have to be there, came out.”
You can help Team Bear, too. Kingsbury is holding a fundraiser between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tuesday, August 26 at Young Veterans Brewing Company. For more information, click here.