POINT PLEASANT — More than 80 wreaths will be placed on the graves of veterans in three Point Pleasant cemeteries on Saturday as National Wreaths Across America Day is observed.
According to Diana Johnson, volunteer location coordinator, a ceremony will be noon at the Medal of Honor Park along Jackson Avenue. Immediately following the service, volunteers will place wreaths at Lone Oak and Suncrest cemeteries. In addition, six wreaths will be placed on the graves of Revolutionary War veterans in Pioneer Cemetery.
Johnson said she became interested in the Wreaths Across America project and, as a member of the Col. Charles Lewis Chapter NSDAR, got that organization involved. This is the fourth year the local group has participated.
A total of 86 wreaths were sponsored this year for Point Pleasant, at a cost of $15 each. Johnson said more sponsorships are always welcome and are needed.
Graves for the wreaths to be placed on are chosen in a unique way. Johnson said she walked through Lone Oak Cemetery and found 47 veteran headstones. She marked the graves with a small American flag so volunteers, which include members of a local Girl Scout troop, will know where to place the wreaths. Johnson said as far as she knows, all veterans at Lone Oak will be recognized.
She next walked through Suncrest Cemetery, where she found the graves of dozens of veterans.
“I can’t believe the number of veterans buried in Suncrest Cemetery,” she added.
Johnson said because there aren’t enough wreaths sponsored for every veteran’s grave at Suncrest, she began at the front of the cemetery and marked graves until she ran out of wreaths.
While Johnson said there has been more interest shown locally this year, she can always use more volunteers to lay the wreaths. In the past, Boy Scout troops and high school cheerleaders, as well as individuals, have assisted. Anyone wanting to help this year should attend the noon service.
Wreaths Across America was formed in 2007 as an extension of The Arlington Wreath Project, which began in 1992 when a Maine wreath company owner donated wreaths to decorate the graves at Arlington National Cemetery. In 2008, the U.S. Congress voted unanimously to designate December 13 as “Wreaths Across America Day.” The wreath laying is now held on the second or third Saturday of December.
According to the Wreaths Across America website, in 2014 over 700,000 memorial wreaths were laid at 1,000 locations in the U.S., as well as overseas. Ceremonies were held at the Pearl Harbor Memorial, Bunker Hill, Valley Forge, and the sites of the September 11 tragedies, among others. The goal of covering Arlington National Cemetery was also accomplished last year with the placement of 226,525 wreaths.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing who lives in Mason County.