Remember the fallen … honor those who served … teach our children the value of freedom.
“It was very humbling,” said Rob Stone, a funeral director with Cutler Funeral Home, about his taking part in Wreaths Across America last year at Arlington National Cemetery. “Ninety-five percent of the graves in Arlington are never visited once a veteran is interred.”
Saturday, Dec. 19, is Wreaths Across America Day. WAA began as The Arlington Wreath project started by Morrill Worcester in 1992 with the donation and laying of 5,000 Christmas wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery. It was relatively obscure until 2005 when a photo of the stones adorned with wreaths and covered in snow circulated around the internet. The project received national attention. In 2018, nearly 1.8 million veteran wreaths were placed on headstones at 1,640 participating cemeteries around the country in honor of the service and sacrifices made for our freedoms, with each name said out loud.
The first wreath Rob placed at Arlington was on the grave of David Howard Hawkins.
After a wreath is placed, his or her name is said aloud and a short prayer is said.
“Our protocol is one wreath at a time with the bright red bow lying just under the last name to represent the blood that was shed. Then one step back, saying the veteran’s name out loud, then a moment of silence and a prayer for the family. Then you repeat the process,” Stone said.
Rob, along with other volunteers, helped lay 253,000 veterans’ wreaths at Arlington last year. Back in La Porte, the staff at Cutler’s helped lay 75 donated wreaths on the graves of service men and women at Pine Lake Cemetery. It was the funeral home’s first year participating in WAA on a local level.
This year, Cutler’s has had 300 wreaths donated so far to be placed on graves at Pine Lake, Oak Grove, Salem and Carmel Cemeteries. “We are looking forward to what the coming years will bring as the program grows in this area,” Stone said.
Because of COVID, Cutler’s will not be having a public ceremony in conjunction with WAA. However, on Saturday, Dec. 19, at 9 a.m., volunteers with meet at the funeral home, follow CDC guidelines, and proceed to the area cemeteries to remember and honor our veterans through the laying of Remembrance Wreaths on the graves of our county’s heroes.
To volunteer or make a $15 donation to purchase a wreath, call or stop by Cutler’s before Dec. 1 at 2900 Monroe St., La Porte (219-363-6538).
To Sponsor online, click here: https://wreathsacrossamerica.org/pages/161191/Overview/?relatedId=0
75 wreaths were laid on local veterans’ graves last year.