A nationwide wreath-laying program which honors and remembers deceased veterans at the holidays is formally coming to Hills Ferry Cemetery this year.
The “Wreaths Across America” program will be held Friday morning, Dec. 13, at Hills Ferry Cemetery.
Following the formal program, volunteers will place wreaths at the graves of veterans buried in the rural West Side cemetery.
Local organizer RoseLee Hurst said community members, families, businesses and organizations can sponsor single or multiple wreaths in remembrance of veterans. Wreaths may be ordered through Nov. 14, Hurst said.
The cost is $15 per wreath. For every two wreaths purchased, Hurst added, the Wreaths Across America donates a third.
Hills Ferry will be a “grave-specific” cemetery, she noted, meaning that sponsors can designate the grave on which they would like their wreath placed.
A small number of wreaths have been placed on Hills Ferry grave sites in past years in conjunction with the Wreaths Across America commemoration at San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery near Santa Nella, Hurst noted. But this will be the first year that Hills Ferry Cemetery is formally involved in the program, which involves more than 1,600 locations across the nation.
San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery has been part of the program for a number of years. The national cemetery will host its program Saturday, Dec. 14. Wreaths for the national cemetery program may also be ordered through Hurst.
She said that more than 800 veterans are laid to rest in Hills Ferry Cemetery.
Her ultimate goal would be to place a wreath on each of those graves each December, Hurst told Mattos Newspapers, but for the first year she would consider placing 200 to 300 wreaths a successful start.
Wreaths Across America traces its root into the early 1990s, when 5,000 wreaths were donated by Morrill Worcester and the Worcester Wreath Co. to be placed at graves in Arlington National Cemetery.
The organization formally became a non-profit in 2007.
Last year, nearly 1.8 million wreaths were placed on veteran graves in 1,640 locations nationwide and, for the first time, wreaths were placed overseas at the Normandy-American Cemetery in France.
The mission of the program, Hurst reflected, is to honor and remember departed veterans while teaching younger generations about the value of freedom and the sacrifices made to defend a nation’s freedom.
“Honoring our veterans is so crucial,” Hurst commented. “We have more than 800 veterans out at Hills Ferry, and I believe they too should be honored with a wreath.”
To sponsor one or more wreaths, or for more information, call Hurst at 681-5220.