Volunteers honor veterans at Resurrection Cemetery
For three years, the Air Products Information Technology team has organized a Wreaths Across America event at Resurrection Cemetery, 547 N. Krocks Road, Wescosville. This year’s event was held noon Dec. 12.
Team members Margaret Albert, Tina Garavaglia, Michelle Greek, Kathy Haklar, Raymond Hayes, Katie Simpson, Beth Titchenal and Pat Zajac were happy to announce the goal was reached this year to provide a wreath for all 1,104 veterans in the cemetery.
Wreaths Across America, a nonprofit charity, was started in 1992 by Morrill Worcester, the owner of Worcester Wreath in Harrington, Maine. With an excess of wreaths near the end of the holiday season, Morrill had a goal to place 5,000 wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery to honor veterans.
Volunteers are now helping to place over 220,000 memorial wreaths.
Wreaths Across America coordinates wreath-placing ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery and at veterans’ cemeteries in all 50 states.
The organization states, “The wreaths serve as a tribute to our fallen heroes: honoring those who serve and teaching our children about the sacrifices made by veterans and their families to preserve our freedoms.”
The cost of the program is paid for by individual wreath sponsors, local business donors and volunteer truckers.
At the Resurrection Ceremony Dec. 12, members of Girl Scout Troops 6550 and 6700 welcomed volunteers and participants and provided assigned cemetery sections for volunteers.
Over 30 Scouts from Boy Scout Troop 1600 and Cub Scout Troop 1600 and their leaders participated in the ceremony and placed wreaths.
Members of The Knights of Columbus 4th Degree Color Corps also participated in the ceremony.
Opening and closing remarks were provided by Albert.
“We are gathered here today at this memorial site and memorial sites all across America to remember that we are one nation with one flag,” Albert said. “We are all proud to be Americans that live in a free society made up of many people and races, from many walks of life. The freedoms we enjoy today have not come without a price.
“Lying here before us and in cemeteries throughout this nation are men and women who gave their lives so that we can live in freedom and without fear. We can raise our children to believe as we do. We can travel from one end of this great nation to the other and not have to ask permission to go. We are free to vote for whomever we feel should be in government office and we answer to no one but our own feelings. We have the right to succeed and we have the right to fail at whatever endeavor we wish to pursue,” Albert said.
“Our nation stands as a shining beacon of liberty and freedom to the world. We thank those who gave their lives to keep us free and we shall not forget you. We shall remember.”
To the veterans who attended the ceremony, Albert said, “Many of you today have served your country well. We are here today to say ‘Thank You’ and we are honored to know you. There are many men and women serving today in all branches of the military, here at home and in places far away. These men and women are part of the best-trained, best-equipped force in the world. We honor them and their families for the sacrifices they make each day to keep our country safe from terrorism, hatred and injustice that plague the world community.”
Albert also reminded the attendees to take a moment and thank a veteran. “We owe them our way of life and a moment of your time is well spent.”
Parkland High School student Emma Perlman sang the national anthem and “God Bless America” during the ceremony. Each song was followed by applause.
Ceremonial wreaths, remembering those who served and are serving were placed by Andy Budraitis, United States Army; Earl Marlatt, United States Marine Corps; Ken Stover, United States Navy; Vaughn Hoffman, United States Air Force; Virgil Hogue, United States Coast Guard; Kevin Burke, United States Merchant Marines; and Barry Morrell, in honor of the 93,129 United States servicemen and women from all branches of the service whose last known status was either Prisoners of War or Missing in Action.
Members of The Knights of Columbus, 4th Degree Color Corps and Scouts presented arms at the laying of each wreath.
Representing Springhouse Middle School, students Emma Prehl and Sophie Gumina provided comments entitled, “You Are Not Forgotten.”
According to Springhouse Principal Michelle Minotti, 50 wreaths were donated – one wreath per homeroom. The school chose “Wreaths Across America” as part of their “Take a Stand” program which focuses on anti-bullying and paying it forward.
Prehl and Gumina’s comments honored the lives of veterans found and those yet to be found– POW/MIA.
The two provided statistics for those Americans missing in action.
The Defense Department’s POW/MIA office recorded only six veterans missing from Iraq, due to a new tracking system.
From the Cold War, there are 126 Americans missing or unaccounted for.
From the Vietnam War, 1,741 Americans were unaccounted for or still missing.
From the Korean War, there are still 7,829 Americans missing or unaccounted for.
From World War II, a total of 73,515 Americans were unaccounted for or missing.
“As of three days ago, our Defense Department of POW/MIA found a man missing for 64 years,” Prehl said.
To the people gathered, Gumina said, “We hope all of you believe as strongly about honoring these people as we do. We pause today to reflect on the numbers of POW/MIA whose fate is still unknown.”
“We will not forget them,” Prehl said.
Scout Leader Bill Folk played Taps as part of the closing ceremony.
“The remembrance wreaths symbolize our honor to those who have served and are serving in the armed forces of our great nation and to their families who endure sacrifices everyday on our behalf,” Albert said. “To our children, we want you to understand the freedoms you enjoy today have not been free but have come with a cost that someday, you may have to pay yourself. As a nation standing together, we can defeat terrorism, hatred and injustice. Thanks to our veterans, we have the freedom to do just that.”