Holding a wreath, Holly Dreder walked down rows of gray stone markers Saturday morning at the Air Force Academy Cemetery looking for one grave.
"William Crawford," she said placing the wreath on the grave of the Medal of Honor recipient. After saying a short prayer, she added, "Even though I didn't know him, I wish him good luck up there."
The Palmer Lake Elementary student was among more than 100 volunteers who paid tribute to veterans buried at the academy cemetery by placing wreaths on their graves. The wreath laying at the cemetery was part of the nationwide Wreaths Across America campaign to remember fallen veterans and educate young people about their sacrifice.
Veterans cemeteries in all 50 states participated. Volunteers at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, where the tradition started in 1992, laid 245,000 wreaths, according to WTOP news.
Larry Bagley, a 1966 Air Force Academy graduate, said he comes to the cemetery on Memorial Day every year, and had started coming for the annual Wreaths Across America as well.
"My son is buried here," Bagley explained. "It really warms my heart to see the kids."
Ron Olds, class of 1969, said he comes to the cemetery on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
"I guess at this time in life you see a lot of classmates buried out here. You want them remembered," Olds said.
The veteran Holly came for is one of the more celebrated at the cemetery, even though he was outranked by those around him and wasn't in the Air Force. Army Master Sgt. Crawford received the nation's highest award for bravery in combat for risking his life to take out a machine gun nest during fighting in Italy in World War II.
After the war, he took a job at the academy, working as a janitor in cadet dormitories, never telling anyone about his medal. Many cadets didn't know about the hero in their midst until President Ronald Reagan took time out from his 1984 graduation address at the school to hang the Medal of Honor around Crawford's neck.
Except for Medal of Honor recipients, the cemetery is exclusively for academy graduates, Air Force generals, academy staff and their families.
Two veterans, Mark and Renee Williams, brought their two kids to lay wreaths. And to teach them.
"I brought the kids out so I can show them tomorrow's not a promise," Mark Williams said.