'Gold Star' wife gears up for Wreaths Across America

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BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- There are only two days standing between Kristen Ackley and her first trip to Arlington National Cemetery with Wreaths Across America, a voyage she is honored to be apart of.

"This is such an honor to be able to be one of the few that are going on the trip," Ackley said. "To see how much veterans are respected and still contributing to them, we can't thank them enough." 

Every year around the holidays, thousands of people make the trip to Washington D.C. to lay wreaths on the graves at Arlington National Cemetery. The Wreaths Across America tradition was started right here in Maine.

Ackley's husband, Army First Sergeant Christian Kearney, was killed while serving in Afghanistan in 2012. She says it was the hardest thing she has ever endured and is still dealing with the pain. 

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"He was a great man." Ackley said.

First Sergeant Kearney is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. "Section 60, so I'm hoping that I'm going to be able to be the one to put it on his grave," Ackley said. "If not, then somebody else, somebody wonderful will place it on his grave."

For many people, the trip is a big part of healing. Ackley hopes it will bring her some much needed closure. "It's hard without having someone going through some things, everybody needs a support system of some kind," Ackley said. "So I'm really hoping this will help with healing and closure and just lifelong connections at meaningful connections friendship and support."

NEWS CENTER's Samantha York and Zach Blanchard will be joining the convoy this year. You can follow their journey on air and social media.