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Ravell Call, Deseret News
Veterans salute during a wreath ceremony at the Vietnam Memorial at the Capitol in Salt Lake City, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. The annual program is part of the National Wreaths Across America State House Ceremony.
I'm a believer that when you think and remember somebody, for that moment, they're with you again. So when you're thinking about them, then simply whisper, 'Thank you for your service. We love you and we miss you, and we appreciate all you've done for us and for the greatest country that we live in. —Dennis Howland

SALT LAKE CITY — Taps sounded from a horn Monday as about two dozen people saluted and observed a moment of remembrance for veterans at the Vietnam Memorial at the state Capitol.

"I'm a believer that when you think and remember somebody, for that moment, they're with you again," said Dennis Howland, president of the northern Utah chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America. "So when you're thinking about them, then simply whisper, 'Thank you for your service. We love you and we miss you, and we appreciate all you've done for us and for the greatest country that we live in.'"

Moments earlier a wreath was placed at the head of the memorial with small flags for the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, United States, POW/MIA, Merchant Marines, Marine Corps and Air Force tucked in. The National Wreaths Across America State House Ceremony simultaneously took place at noon EST in each state and in 24 overseas locations, falling one day after the 73rd anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

An estimated 725,000 wreaths will be placed on veterans graves in more than 900 locations across the county during the holiday season to remember veterans and their families "who have an empty chair at the holiday table," Howland said.

"'To be killed in war is not the worst thing that can happen. To be lost is not the worst thing that can happen. But to be forgotten is the worst,'" Howland said, quoting philanthropist Pierre Claeyssens, who helped fund the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation.

The wreath will remain at the Vietnam memorial on the west side of the Capitol throughout the holiday season.

"I can assure you that the men and women honored on that wall, in that war, will gladly share that memorial with all who ever served, in peacetime and war," said Howland, a Vietnam veteran.

There are 151,719 veterans in Utah, including 118,616 who served during wartime, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. That includes 56,814 who served during the Gulf War, 46,268 who served in the Vietnam era, 14,253 in the Korean conflict, and 7,030 during World War II.

"Veterans are a part of a legacy of the men and women who have served our country with honor and distinction, from when we were first created, right up through today," said Gary Harter, executive director of the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs.

Wreaths Across America is a nonprofit group founded to perpetuate and enlarge a wreath laying ceremony that Morrill Worcester began at Arlington National Cemetery in 1992. For more information, visit wreathsacrossamerica.org.

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