Veterans are honored in both life and death, whether they died in service or took off their uniform.
For this Veterans Day, the Channel 3 Liberty Bank Surprise Squad was able to contribute to what that mission is about: Remembering, honoring and teaching our country about the cost of freedom.
"I see you guys on Channel 3 all the time and I thought, 'it'd be great if you guys could help,'" said Kelly Aresco, a volunteer for Wreaths Across America.
Aresco, who is from Middletown, is entering her second year as a volunteer for the non-profit organization that is dedicated to remembering and honoring veterans.
"You drive by, you see wreaths, you just think 'oh somebody puts wreaths out,'' said Lanie Anderson, a volunteer. "It' so much more than that and if you can be a part of the ceremony. It is really touching."
Take a look at what they do here.
For the past five years, Capt. Joe Sanborn has been the driving force behind the wreaths.
"We hope that we can provide the Gold Star families some comfort knowing that we all care, that we all remember, and the service is honored for every active duty servicemen, every veteran, and every fallen hero," Joe Sanborn told the squad.
Every December, a special wreath is laid on the graves of the state veterans cemetery in Middletown. Unfortunately, every year there has been a shortage.
"Families are going to come to the cemetery, and there are going to be some stones and gravesites with wreaths, and some without," said Kimberly Czaja, a volunteer.
"You feel like there's more that could be done. And how do you explain to someone 'how come these people have a wreath and you don't have a wreath,'" Anderson said.
While Joe Sanborn and his team have been making great strides in acquiring more wreaths each year, his wife said he feels his mission has just started.
"All he sees are the graves that are not covered with wreaths and it has really become a mission for him to cover all the graves that he can and really honor everybody," said Rachel Sanborn, Joe Sanborn's wife.
"You just can't buy a wreath and do it," Aresco said. "It has to be a specific wreath."
"I've had a lot of inquiries as to why we don't just go to a grocery store and buy a wreath for $5." Joe Sanborn said. "It's because these heroes deserve more than that. It's really that simple."
To Joe Sanborn's peers, the work he does is not simple.
"His heart and soul is in this, his wife and son, his entire team, the partners with DAR bring this altogether," said Thomas J. Saadi of the state Department of Veterans' Affairs.
"He goes above and beyond," Aresco said. "It'd be great if [the Liberty Bank Surprise Squad] could help and help Joe's cause with the wreaths."
That's exactly what the squad did. It showed up to one of the group's meetings at the Department of Veterans' Affairs.
Joe Sanborn was presented with a donation meant to go toward wreaths for the holiday season.
"Wow that is wonderful," he said. "Thank you!"
"To have you guys show up and not only show up to cover the event, but to show up with cash in hand to help foster the event and push the event forward, thank you very much," said 1st Lt. Bob Holdsworth.
"This is the first time we've had the press involved with us and we really appreciate that," Joe Sanborn said. "I won't rest until there's a wreath for every Veteran, every year."
Anyone looking to donate to Wreaths Across America can find the information here.
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