More than 1,400 military families have arrived in Dallas, Texas, for the annual "Snowball Express" gathering to honor loved ones lost in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Since 2006, the volunteer non-profit group has organized the largest all-expense-paid gathering for the families of fallen soldiers.
This year, American Airlines provided travel for the event, which is mainly to help children cope with the loss of a parent to combat.
"It gives them an opportunity to spend some time with people who understand what they're going through, who understand the difficulties of losing a family member in the military," explained Charles Peach of American Airlines.
Military widow Sonya Galvan can relate.
"Once the funeral is over and you're back to everyday life, you feel like you're very much forgotten," she said. "People don't realize how much your lives have changed and... it's nice that people are still constantly working to let you know that they appreciate the sacrifice that we have to endure."
The families will be in Dallas through Dec. 13 for the event.
*Originally published December 10, 2009