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Eight fallen heroes honored in the 2nd Annual Veterans Memorial Reef Commemoration

In honor of National Armed Forces Day, the Veterans Memorial Reef organization held their second annual commemoration event.
Published: May. 21, 2022 at 3:54 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - In honor of National Armed Forces Day, the Veterans Memorial Reef organization held their second annual commemoration event.

The ceremony on Saturday was held at Battleship Park, where eight local fallen veterans were honored. Their ashes are mixed into concrete structures, and placed out at sea to create an artificial reef for wildlife to enjoy.

Dozens of family members and community members came to the ceremony to pay their respects.

“I think that was a ceremony of heroes, for us to remember her as a hero,” said a family member of honoree Lori Schmucker. “She loved the ocean, and then to have her apart of this.”

Lori Schmucker was one of the eight veterans honored on Saturday. She was a member of the Air Force like other members of her family, and died by suicide.

Her family says that she loved the ocean, and something about this process gives them the peace they all needed.

“If she were here, she would be so proud of this, she would be so excited,” her family said. “Loving the Earth the way she did, to know she’ll become a part of the Earth literally. So, this is just a wonderful, wonderful thing that they’re doing in so many ways.”

Not only does this event bring some closure to grieving families, it also gives them another burial option as veteran cemeteries across the country begin to fill up.

“We have families that will actually go out to the reef site, and they’ll fish,” said President of the Veterans Memorial Reef organization Joe Irrera. “We have people that go out to the reef site and dive on it. So, it’s a continuing legacy.”

Losing a loved one can be the saddest day of someone’s life, but these families believe ceremonies like this bring fallen heroes the recognition they deserve.

“I just did not expect what I saw today,” said Schmucker’s family. “What a fantastic idea and what a good way to remember these heroes.”

The dedication at sea will take place on Monday morning.

For more information on the organization or to donate, click here.

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