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Laying wreaths to remember the fallen

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It was a sombre morning for Debbie Warren as she joined dozens at Beechwood Cemetery to remember Canada's fallen soldiers and veterans.

"This is my son, Jason," said Warren pointing to a memorial wall that showed a photo of Cpl. Jason Warren, a Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan in 2006. "He was with the Blackwatch. He was two days from coming home when he was killed by a suicide bomber."

He was one of thousands honoured and remembered at the National Military Cemetery for the annual Wreaths Across Canada ceremony.

"This is something so generous we can give to them are these wreaths," said Wreaths Across Canada president Cyndi Mills. "We've got $40,000 in wreaths we are laying on the graves of the people that have served our country."

It's the first time Warren has attended the event. Surrounded by family and together with her daughter, Sgt. Rachelle Warren, she laid a wreath on Jason's headstone.

"I didn't expect to get so emotional," she said as she held back the tears. "Every time I see his grave I have a difficult time but I'm really happy we did it."

"The opportunity to lay this wreath with my mom is very emotional but it means a lot," added Sgt. Rachelle Warren with the Royal Canadian Air Force. "I think it's also important for my daughter who never got a chance to know her uncle… to be here… so his memory is kept alive."

The tradition started nearly a decade ago after retired Royal Canadian Air Force warrant officer Craig McPhee saw wreaths laid on the headstones of service members in Arlington, VA. McPhee passed away last year but his legacy continues on, as organizers and those who continue to serve hope to grow the number of wreaths and ceremonies hosted across the country.

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