TAYLOR COUNTY—Each year, volunteers take to the rolling hills of the West Virginia National Cemetery to pay respect and honor those laid to rest within its hallowed grounds with a special ceremony.
During the month of December, wreaths are placed on the graves of some of America’s bravest men and women in an act of gratitude for their service and sacrifice through the annual Wreaths Across America campaign.
Wreaths Across America’s mission is to remember fallen U.S. veterans, honor those who serve in the armed forces and teach children and individuals the value of freedom. On National Wreaths Across America Day, organizations hold wreath-laying ceremonies at over 1,100 locations around the United States, at sea and abroad.
While remembering veterans and service personnel is commonly done in the fall on Veterans Day and on Memorial Day in the spring, those behind Wreaths Across America feel that there is no better time to remember those who are serving and those who made the ultimate sacrifice than the holiday season.
Locally, volunteers work to lay wreaths on the graves at both of Taylor County’s national cemeteries, the West Virginia National Cemetery, located in Pruntytown and the Grafton National Cemetery, located on Walnut Street, but in year’s past not all the graves were able to receive a wreath.
According to Cliff VanGilder, this year’s coordinator, it was their goal to cover all 5,348 headstones at the West Virginia National Cemetery. Early in November, it was reported that they were halfway to their goal.
“Remember, honor and teach. That’s what Wreath’s Across America is about,” said VanGilder. “We remember them, we honor them, and we want to teach the children to do the same.”
Through hard work, and the compassionate hearts of community members, organizers were able to announce on Monday, December 2, their deadline, that they had made it to their goal.
This year, all those laid to rest in the West Virginia National Cemetery will be honored with a commemorative wreath, thanks to the outpouring of support from the community.
“Congratulations to everyone who played a part in making this possible,” organizers posted on the Wreaths Across America at West Virginia National Cemetery Facebook page. “We did it! The West Virginia National Cemetery will be covered this year!”
Although the fundraising and wreath purchasing is done, the work is not complete. Now, volunteers are needed to help place the wreaths on the graves of the soldiers.
Those who would like to get involved may reach out to already existing groups, but for those wishing to start their own group, more information can be found on the program’s website www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.
Volunteers and guests are welcome to attend the annual Wreaths Across America Wreath Placement ceremony on Saturday, December 14, beginning at noon.
“We hope you will join us at any of our more than 1,600 participating locations to show our veterans and their families that we will not forget. We will never forget,” said organizers.