To the editor:

“Wreaths Across America” is a program to place wreaths on our veterans’ graves each December. As the newly appointed local coordinator for the program held at Hills Ferry Cemetery on Dec. 13, I asked for help from many people and they answered the call.

We had a wonderful service with retired military members from each of the armed forces branches placing special ceremonial wreaths representing their branch, and we were blessed to have a WWII Navy veteran in that mix. The American Veterans Reserve (men who ranked from from Colonel to Sergeant) were the honor guard for the service - and our own Jim Lagrutta played Taps. We even had the young helping, Marsha Borelli-Silva’s grandson Lucas Santiago (NJROTC, Turlock High School). In addition, Michelle Wood and Borelli-Silva graced the event with their melodic voices. Karen Edwards helped me place the MIA/POW ceremonial wreath. Duke Cooper from American Veterans First in Riverbank, was our keynote speaker.

Representatives of the Newman 4-H Club and Orestimba High Interact Club, men from the Patterson HOST House and others helped place the 234 wreaths.

Several dignitaries and community members also helped with the wreath laying. I cannot begin to thank everyone who played any part in this event. Two-hundred and thirty-four wreaths was a good start, but next year I hope we can cover the over 800 graves of veterans.

Now that we have the wreaths on grave sites, I need to ask for help to remove them. On Saturday, Jan. 25, at 2 p.m. in Hills Ferry Cemetery we will remove the wreaths. Please call me at 209-681-5220 if you can help.