DALLAS At Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery, it seems even the headstones stand at attention, in a straight path, lined up with military precision.
It is, undoubtedly, the perfect place for Army Cpl. Peter Courcy to rest.
He loved America, said his mother, Mary Bush. From the time he was a little kid, he wanted to be a soldier, and he got to live his dream.
But he didn't get to finish the dream. Peter died in Afghanistan in 2009. He was only 22 years old.
This will be Mary's fourth Christmas without him.
I mean, I do wish I could spend another Christmas with him, she said. But I'll get to one day. I just have to be patient and wait my turn.
For now, she brings Christmas to him. Mary and her husband Chris have become some of the area's largest supporters of the nationwide program called Wreaths Across America. It is an effort to place a wreath at the grave of every veteran in every cemetery in the United States.
For some reason, the effort to lay wreaths at D/FW National Cemetery falls short every year.
It hasn't taken off, and we so wish it would, said local coordinator Joan Gulliksen. She is a member of the Civil Air Patrol. Gulliksen and her husband coordinate the CAP cadets who go to the cemetery each year for a wreath-laying program. This year it will be Saturday, December 15 at 11 a.m.
Gulliksen said she thinks people in Dallas just haven't heard of the program. But other cities see tremendous success.
As a matter of fact, Houston does have a wreath on every grave site every year, she said.
When our son was first killed, they had less than 50 wreaths [at D/FW Naional Cemetery], Chris Bush said. We were surprised. We decided we wanted to change that.
Since Mary and Chris became involved, the project has grown tremendously. They put an ad in the newspaper reminding people of their son's sacrifice and asking people to donate.
Close to 1,900 wreaths came in this year, but there are more than 19,000 graves at D/FW National Cemetery.
To cover the whole cemetery would be so wonderful, said Gulliksen. It would just have that 'Wow! This is gorgeous! Thank you, veterans' feeling.
Donations for 2012 are closed, but donations for 2013 are being accepted. Mary and Chris hope people will attend the December 15 ceremony.
To be at a place where people gave so much, it's just nice and peaceful, Chris Bush said. It's not sad; it's an uplifting event.
Mary said she knows it's a small way to say 'thank you' for an immeasurable sacrifice.
I know that Peter's going to get a wreath, but I want every soldier who ever was willing to fight for our freedom to have a wreath, she said. By us taking on this effort, and not just saying 'thank you' to Peter, but we're saying 'thank you' to all those soldiers. I know that's the part he was proud of. He wanted everyone to love this great country.