Marines

Community honors veterans during holidays with Wreaths Across America

26 Nov 2013 | Lance Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera

Members of the local community will join thousands nationwide in honoring veterans through a wreath laying ceremony on Wreath Across America Day, Dec. 14.

Wreath Across America Day is an annual event which began in 1992 in Arlington National Cemetery. Since then, the event has spread throughout the country and is now marked annually by a congressional proclamation. 

Volunteers and veteran’s families are scheduled to lay donated wreaths throughout graves in Coastal Carolina State Veteran’s Cemetery to commemorate the veterans.

“We want to remember the veterans; a lot of the veterans buried there have no family or their families live far away,” said Pat Walker, the secretary of the Onslow Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation, who organized the local Wreaths Across America event. “We want to let people know they are not forgotten.”

All wreaths are donated by local families and businesses through the Onslow Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation.

“It’s more than placing a wreath on a gravestone,” said Amber Caron, the Wreaths Across America spokesperson. “It’s a way for veterans to know that even when the words on a grave are worn down, somebody will take a moment to pause and reflect.”

Wreaths Across America Day arrived locally three years ago, when members of the Onslow Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation wanted to honor the veterans on the Vietnam War Memorial’s walls with wreaths.

A wreath was placed at the base of each glass pane in the memorial and remaining wreaths were donated to the Coastal Carolina State Veteran’s Cemetery. Since then, the foundation has worked to try to bring a wreath to every one of the 3,500 veterans’ graves in the cemetery.

Through generous offerings, 500 wreaths were donated last year and the organization hopes to surpass that this year.

“It’s a drop in the bucket,” said Walker. “So far we’re a long way from giving all of them one, but we keep trying.”

Several units from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune have sponsored sections of the cemetery, and occasionally families have donated wreaths to graves of veterans buried next to loved ones.

Some families visit the graves and place their own wreath, while others are done by volunteers including the Boy Scouts and Young Marines.

It’s a civic opportunity for youth, said Walker.

“It’s near and dear to me to keep this going for the kids,” said Walker. “I want the youth to know our veterans and service members are very important people.”

Many of the volunteers also assist families in carrying the large, ornate wreaths.

“It’s a learning experience for them,” Walker added.

To make a donation or to volunteer, call Pat Walker at 545-9333 or visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.

 

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