Honoring the fallen (WITH GALLERY)

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 22, 2022

Wreaths Across America was held on Saturday

The Wreaths Across America ceremony took place at Woodland Cemetery in Ironton on Saturday. (the Ironton Tribune | Mark Shaffer)

Saturday was cold, overcast and windy, but it didn’t stop nearly 200 people from coming to Woodlawn Cemetery in Ironton to put wreaths with red ribbons on the graves of over 1,000 veterans in the Soldiers Plot and the Civil War section as part of the 10th annual Wreaths Across America ceremony.

The speaker for the event was Lt. Col. (Ret.) Scott Evans, former commander of the Ohio National Guard 216th Engineering Battalion.

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He served for 27 years and retired in 2010. He served in Iraq from 2004-2005, commanding the 216th Engineering Battalion in Tikrit, which was the hometown of the country’s former dictator Saddam Hussein.

He is a member of the Lawrence County Veterans Service Commission, a county agency that serves veterans

by providing emergency assistance to veterans and their widows.

He thanked everyone for attending to honor the veterans.

“I want to thank Wreaths Across America and all the good folks who make this possible,” he said. “A lot of good people, including you in the crowd, make this possible. It is a wonderful thing to see everyone out to honor these fallen heroes.”

Wreaths Across America local organizer Laura Brown explained that she and her sister, Sally Ingles, took over organizing the event three years ago from Juanita Southers and Linda who started the local event in 2012 after visiting Southers’ daughter in Washington D.C. and taking part in Wreaths Across America putting wreaths on veterans’ graves in Arlington National Cemetery. They thought it was such a touching ceremony that they had to bring it to Lawrence County.

“We hope we do them proud every year,” Brown said.

She then explained how to put the wreaths on the metal post and then put the wreath on it in the correct way, with the red ribbon on top. She then asked to say the name of the veteran after they had placed the wreath.

Members of the Symmes Valley Veterans Organization stand at attention while “Taps” is played during the 10th annual Wreaths Across America ceremony on Saturday. (The Ironton Tribune | Mark Shaffer)

After Evans spoke, cadets with the Greenup County Junior ROTC assisted veterans to place memorial wreaths in front of all the flags honoring the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines, Space Force and POW/MIA.

After that, the Symmes Valley Veterans Organization, which is made of members of VFW, American Legion and AMVETS posts, fired a 21-gun salute and “Taps” was played.

With that, the volunteers got to work putting the wreaths on the gravestones.

Brown said she was thrilled with the turnout on Saturday.

“I was very happy,” she said. “We had 200 or more people attend, it was wonderful.”

She said that she was happy that the event gets a little more attendance every year.

“And I am hoping that inspires more people to come out and be a part of Wreaths Across America,” she said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they haven’t been able to get out and raise funds for the wreaths, but the community support was strong enough that this was the third year in a row that there were enough wreaths for all the veterans’ graves. “Hopefully, this year we will be able to have more organizational meetings and get people together.”

The wreaths will be removed at 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 14 and they are asking for volunteers to help with the that.

For anyone interested in Wreaths Across America, the best way to contact the local group is through their Facebook page, Wreaths Across America/Ironton.