For Ray and Kelli Barfield, Saturday was a good day.
The Barfields, whose son Marine Lance Cpl. Jason Barfield was killed in Afghanistan a year ago, attended a wreath-laying ceremony for deceased military personnel at Sunset Memorial Park on Barrington Road Saturday.
“When we drove up and saw all the flags, I felt chills,” Ray Barfield said.
Kelli Barfield said, “It says a lot about the community. I’ve been in touch with other people throughout the country and they don’t do this sort of thing where they’re from. They’re amazed at how our area is coming together.”
More than 570 people placed wreaths donated by local individuals, businesses and organizations at the graves of military personnel buried at the park. The event is part of a nationwide Wreaths Across America event intended to honor the sacrifices of military personnel.
Robert Byrd, Sunset Memorial Park proprietor, said he chose to participate in the event because he understands that the holiday season can be a tough time for military families who have lost a loved one. Byrd said an expression of community support would benefit these families.
“It helps in the healing process,” he said.
The event included speeches by Dothan Mayor Mike Scmitz, Army Col. Stuart McRae, Fort Rucker garrison commander, and the participation of the Wiregrass Patriot Guard, among others.
Jamie Clark is the widow of Chief Warrant Officer Donald Clark, who was killed in Iraq in a 2008 helicopter crash. Clark said the ceremony is helpful for her family as they continue to cope with the loss of her husband.
“The holidays are difficult and this is a big event for us,” she said. “Some people go look at the Christmas lights or go caroling, we go lay wreaths.”