Be sure to place wreaths on Veteran graves this holiday season

Be sure to place wreaths on Veteran graves this holiday season

Wendy Post, Owego editor, placed a wreath on a friend’s father’s gravesite last week.

Tioga County wishes to ensure wreaths are placed at cemetery entrances and veteran graves.

Tioga County’s 2014 Wreaths Across America objective is a Christmas wreath at the entrance to all cemeteries and on every veteran’s silent grave inside.

There is beauty and simplicity in the gesture of placing a wreath to honor our veterans – its circular shape symbolizing eternity and a red bow signifying great sacrifice. It’s a wonderful tribute and one that should continue to grow in our area for years to come.

When a cemetery in Tioga, Bradford or Northern Susquehanna Counties does not have an evergreen wreath hanging at its main entrance, you are empowered to find a way to get a wreath there within a few days.

Church members are asked to friend or adopt a cemetery and hang a veteran’s remembrance wreath. Families, community organizations, and citizens are reminded to place wreaths at veteran headstones.

Families started Saturday after a national moment of silence including the Tioga County Veterans Memorial to decorate the graves of their veterans. Snow earlier in the week delayed some from getting into the cemetery. But as weather conditions improved, families said they will have a wreath on the headstone of their veteran.

The wreath placements are part of the National Wreaths Across America to REMEMBER and HONOR our veterans during the holiday – a time of traditional family gatherings – and TEACH our children that we are able to do so, in peace, because of the many sacrifices made by our military men and women.

At Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, 60 tractor-trailer loads of Christmas wreaths were delivered for the 23rd anniversary at America’s most sacred shrine. Some 35,000 people showed up to volunteer to place wreaths on the 400,000 silent graves.

Said a local volunteer: “I can only image the heroic lives that are represented on some of those headstones. After the event I just stood in awe of the beauty that the Christmas wreaths brought to those thousands of straight lined headstones stretching as far as the eye could see.”

This year Wreaths Across America volunteers placed 700,000 wreaths to honor veterans at 1,106 locations nationally and abroad.

Four years ago the former Commanding Officer of the Army’s Special Forces Command Lt. General (Retired) William G. Boyland laid wreaths at the Tioga County Veterans Memorial.

The Bronze Star Medal Recipient and Purple Heart Recipient’s words to the Gold Star Bilbrey Family still resonate: “A greater gift has no man than to lay down his life for another. Your hero son Army Specialist Charles Bilbrey Jr. has done just that in Iraq. Let these wreaths represent our commitment as Americans to remember all those who sacrificed for us today. Let us not forget those men and women currently serving in all branches of our military.”

Saturday at noon at Owego’s eighth annual ceremony the Honor Guard of the Glenn A. Warner Post 1371, Veterans of Foreign Wars, posted the colors and laid wreaths.

Evergreen wreaths were placed at the Tioga County Union Memorial in the Courthouse Square by Newark Valley Deputy Historian and Vietnam Veteran Jerry Marsh followed by a talk about the role of Tioga County soldiers in the Civil War.

Before the snow a wreath was placed at the 80-grave Civil War Section in Historic Evergreen Cemetery.

The Rev. G. Terry Steenburg, senior pastor of the Historic First Baptist Church of Owego, blessed the wreaths and offered the prayer and invocation and on Sunday flew to the United Republic of Tanzania in South Africa south of the Equator for a one week mission visit.

The Owego Veterans Memorial Committee and Waverly Friends of Cemetery Preservation thank all who are participating in the eighth annual Wreaths Across America Program in Tioga, Waverly and the Valley, Bradford and Northern Susquehanna Counties.

Wreaths are an expression of everlasting gratitude for veterans. Local veterans hope that next year businesses help purchase the wreaths, especially for graves of veterans who have no local families to remember them at Christmastime.

Rest easy, sleep well, my brothers. Know the line has held, your job is done. Rest easy, sleep well. Others have taken up where you fell, the line has held. Peace and farewell.

Please report what you did for your community and recommendations for 2015 to Glenn A. Warner Post 1371 Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Chairman Jim Raftis email or by calling (607) 687-4229.