Honoring departed veterans

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Wreaths Across America ceremony will be Saturday

On Saturday morning, come rain or snow, the 10th annual Lawrence County Wreaths Across America ceremony will be held at the Soldiers Plot in Woodland Cemetery to honor the veterans buried there.

A hundred or so volunteers will place a live evergreen wreath placed on the grave of every veteran as a way of honoring their sacrifices even after their deaths.

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Wreaths Across America started in 1992 with the motto of “Remember, Honor, Teach” and a goal of laying a wreath on every grave in Arlington Cemetery in Washington, D.C. Since then, the goal has become to lay a wreath on every veteran’s grave across the U.S.

The tradition came to Lawrence County in 2012 after the local organizers Juanita Southers and Linda Dalton saw the Wreaths Across America ceremony at Arlington Cemetery.

In 2019, Laura Brown and her sister, Sally Ingles, took over coordinating the event from Dalton and Southers, who passed away in July 2019. It was the same year that the organizers achieved the goal of getting a wreath for all 1,110 veterans’ graves in the Soldiers Plot.

“We dedicated the ceremony to Juanita that year,” Brown said. “It was always her dream to see a wreath on every veteran’s grave.”

Brown said, thanks to the generosity of the community again this year, they have enough wreaths for all the graves in Soldiers Plot as well as 200 for the Civil War soldier section of the cemetery.

“I tell you, everyone is so generous,” she said. “We didn’t do any fundraising because of so many people being sick, we just asked for donations and people gave us enough to cover every grave. It is so beautiful when it snows with the wreaths and their red ribbon.”

The event will start at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday with opening remarks by Brent Pyles and an invocation by Pastor Bob Bradley. The posting of the colors will be done by the Symmes Valley Veterans Organization, which is made of members of local VFW, American Legion and AMVETS posts.

Remarks will be by Lawrence County Common Pleas Probate/Juvenile Judge Patricia Sanders. She has spent over two decades in the U.S. Army Reserves as a judge advocate general, which is the military equivalent of an attorney. She is a lieutenant colonel and her  current assignment is the chief of administrative law for the 84th Training Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

After Sanders’ remarks, the Greenup County Junior ROTC, under the command of Gunnery Sgt. Steve Sites, will place wreaths by flags representing all six branches of the military and prisoners of war/MIA/KIA.

Brown said that there are so many who help make this event happen every year.

“It isn’t just me and my sister doing this. We have a whole team of people,” she said. “We have Lou Pyles and her husband, Brent. Tim Carpenter (the Lawrence County Veterans Service officer) and he has people who help him. Ann Boggess runs our Facebook page. It takes a whole team to do this, it isn’t just a couple of people who come together to do this for our veterans.”

Anyone interested in helping to put wreaths out can just show up at the cemetery by 11:30 a.m.

The wreaths at Woodland Cemetery will remain on display throughout the holidays and will be taken down in January.