Wreaths program a holiday way to honor vets

Dec 21, 2017, 01:02
Wreaths program a holiday way to honor vets

During the ceremony, veterans, community members and Ashley volunteers laid wreaths at each of the war memorials along Soldiers Walk. This year's weather was much better than last year's event hampered by icy weather.

Methuen historian Joe Bella places a wreath as part of Wreaths Across America Day at Hilldale Cemetery on Saturday, Dec. 16.

The tradition of laying wreaths to honor veterans began in 1992, when Morrill Worcester, the owner of Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine, had extra wreaths at the close of the Holiday season. "We're here to remember not their deaths, but their lives".

Each year on National Wreaths Across America Day over 1,200 locations in all 50 US states, at sea, and overseas continue the tradition of the laying of the wreaths as a mission to Remember, Honor and Teach. While Whyte said he came to support his daughter, the visit to the cemetery struck a deeper cord.

"We encourage every volunteer who places a wreath on a veteran's grave to say that veteran's name aloud and take a moment to thank them for their service to our country", said Karen Worcester, executive director of Wreaths Across America in a statement. The Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the county Veterans Services Office were honored to be presented with two wreaths, which the Board of Freeholders placed on December 15 at the Veterans Plazas in Somerville and Raritan.

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By 2008, more than 300 locations were sites for wreath-laying, with more than 100,000 placed on veterans' graves.

During Caribou's ceremony, led by Maine VFW State Adjutant Andre Dumas, local veterans placed a wreath in front of the Northern Maine Veterans Cemetery committal shelter.

The ability to worship as we choose, to travel freely and vote without explanation are all examples of what veterans have fought and died for throughout the course of history. Joining the event this year was former Congressman Mike Pappas, High Bridge administrator.

Thousands of people across the United States participate in the memorial, said 1st Lt. Darrell R. Smith, Commander of the Gregg County Squadron.