Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Donald Sequeira, along with other members of the Lilburn chapter of the Knights of Columbus, places a wreath at the Fallen Heroes Memorial on Monday.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- Since Donald Sequeira became a U.S. citizen two years ago, he has had even more reverence for the American soldiers who have died in combat.
"I chose to become a citizen, so it means a lot to me to pay homage to those who paid their lives for us to be free," said Sequeira, who was born in India. "It's important to me that we constantly avail to the fact there are men and women who sacrificed for our freedoms, especially at Christmas."
On Monday, Sequeira, as the group's faithful navigator, and a half-dozen counterparts from the local Knights of Columbus council placed a wreath at the Gwinnett Fallen Heroes Memorial.
A Christmas symbol, complete with an American flag, flags from the branches of the military and a traditional red bow, was also laid at the state Capitol, kicking off a new holiday observance for the group.
On Saturday the knights will place wreaths at the graves of fallen soldiers at national cemeteries in Marietta and Canton.
"It's the least we can do to commemorate those who sacrificed so much for our freedoms," said Tony Segura.
The men raised $2,700 to pay for 180 wreaths to be placed at the two cemeteries, bringing to Gwinnett a tradition that began in the 1990s at Arlington National Cemetery, said Brad Burnett, a past grand knight who is the district deputy for the group. Seven of the wreaths will be placed at Arlington.
"We want to recognize people who have served our country so we can enjoy our freedoms," he said of Monday's ceremony, where the fourth degree knights marched in full regalia and recited Catholic prayers. "What better way to make people remember the sacrifice?"