Remembering Our Veterans

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Wreaths Across America
Wreaths Across America

Say these fallen heroes’ names out loud:

Victor H. Bratt (1895-1918)
US Army, killed in France

James E. Lennartson (1918-1943)
US Army, died in Manchuria, China at a POW Camp

Francis T. Carlson (1916-1951)
US Army, killed in Korea

Orman L. Crossley, Jr. (1945-1966)
US Marine, killed in S. Vietnam

Thomas G. Stone (1970-1991)
US Army, killed in Dhaharan, Saudi Arabia

Aaron M. Swanson (1989-2011)
US Marines, killed in Helmond Province, Afghanistan

These local veterans are buried at Lake View Cemetery’s Soldier’s Circle. Each name is a person, a life, a sacrifice and a network of family and friends who miss them every day. Each year, the Wreaths Across America ceremony remembers and honors Veterans and their families. Volunteers distribute the wreaths throughout Soldier’s Circle. Each volunteer honors their memory by saying their name as they place the wreath.

The center monument in Soldier's Circle in Lake View Cemetery is adorned with wreaths to remember the fallen.
The center monument in Soldier’s Circle in Lake View Cemetery is adorned with wreaths to remember the fallen.

How It All Started

In 1992, Worcester Wreath found themselves with a surplus of wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season. Owner, Morrill Worcester, was a 12 year old paper boy for the Bangor Daily News when he won a trip to Washington D.C. His first trip to our nation’s capital was one he would never forget, and Arlington National Cemetery made a lasting impression on him. Remembering his boyhood experience at Arlington, he realized he could honor our country’s veterans. With the aid of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, the donation of a local trucking company, and volunteers from the American Legion and VFW Posts, he made arrangements for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington in one of the older sections of the cemetery that had been receiving fewer visitors with each passing year. The annual tribute went on quietly for several years, until 2005, when a photo of the stones at Arlington, adorned with wreaths and covered in snow, circulated around the internet. The rest is history. Now thousands of cemeteries across the country lay thousands of wreaths on the same day at the same time to “REMEMBER our fallen U.S. veterans. HONOR those who serve. TEACH your children the value of freedom.”

Following the laying of the wreaths in Soldier's Circle, Lake View Cemetery, Jamestown, NY
Following the laying of the wreaths in Soldier’s Circle, Lake View Cemetery, Jamestown, NY

How to Do Your Part

On Saturday, December 14 at noon, Lake View Cemetery hosts the 8th annual ceremony at Soldier’s Circle followed by the laying of the wreaths. “We are happy to help out and acknowledge our veterans,” says Hugh Golden, Lake View Cemetery General Manager. Local Wreaths Across America Coordinator Todd Hanson is planning on laying at least 500 wreaths again this year. The wreaths are purchased by the public through nonprofit groups in one of two ways. The Blue Star Mothers and Daughters of the American Revolution offer a buy 2 wreaths get one free offer and groups can sell the wreaths for $15 keeping $5 while providing a wreath for the ceremony. Hanson added “It would be nice to cover the entire circle at least one year. How great it would be to honor and remember all of our veterans and their families. Our goal for 2020 is 1,200 grave sites. We welcome any group that wants to assist us by getting involved through the Jamestown Wreaths Across America Facebook page, or the Wreaths Across America website or Facebook page.”
Hanson and his volunteers already work with a number of veteran service groups in the region. “One of the best things to come out of all the groups working together on this program is the sharing, networking and projects focused on making our returning veterans transition easier and remembering our fallen veterans,” said Hanson. Volunteers are key to the success of the ceremony. All are welcome to place the donated wreaths following the noon ceremony.

Another way we can all help is to assist local deployed families during the holiday season. They are missing their deployed or lost family member. Your help could make a big difference in this difficult time. Many younger veterans do not attend ceremonies such as this because the trauma and pain are still too real. They need time to process the atrocities of their military service. WWII, Korean Conflict and Vietnam War veterans are more involved in many of these ceremonies because of the cushion of time.

Make some time this holiday season to remember those who have served our country. Take a plate of cookies or a cup of coffee, or both, to your neighbor who is worried about their service member. They are there for us overseas and we are here for them at home.