By Sara Katherine Johnson
Every year in cemeteries across the country, people gather to pay respect to veterans who have died since the founding of the United States. This Christmas, the tradition will continue in Waco.
Oakwood Cemetery will do its part to honor veterans during the holiday season as the Waco Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol joins Wreaths Across America to make sure each veteran’s grave has a wreath on it.
Wreaths Across America’s mission is “remember, honor, teach.”
Its biggest event every year since its inception in 2008 is the wreath-laying ceremony. The first year, there were over 300 participating locations. The ceremony is a way to remember veterans specifically during the holidays.
“There are about 2,500 veterans [at Oakwood Cemetery]. The goal is to raise the funds to have a wreath on every grave,” said Captain Jason Unwin of the Civil Air Patrol.
As of Wednesday, Unwin said $600 was raised. At $15 a wreath, that means there is enough for 40 graves. To place a wreath on each grave, the group will need to raise $37,500.
The ceremony will take place 11 a.m. on Dec. 13 at and is open to the public. The ceremony will also take place nationwide at the same time.
“It honors our veterans,” said Unwin. “There’s veterans there from the American Civil War to the present global war on terror. It’s a way to recognize men and women who sacrificed for the country.”
Unwin said Baylor Air Force and Army ROTC groups have been invited to participate.
“Because they’re active duty, they’ll help with presenting the wreaths for each service branch,” Unwin said. “They’ll also be helping spread the wreaths on the graves.”
Marnie Lesbines, a customer service representative with Wreaths Across America, said the ceremonies follow the same approved script.
The ceremony will begin with one minute of silence. Then the color guard posts colors which are the flags. Opening remarks will talk about the unity of the country and why the veterans deserve this nation’s continued respect.
Finally, the wreaths will are placed on the graves of fallen heroes.