This year Wreaths Across America will continue its efforts to cover veteran’s grave markers with a Christmas wreath to remember fallen U.S. veterans, honor those who serve, and teach children the value of freedom.
Gerold “Buzzard” Wilkin of the Sons of the American Revolution Highlanders Chapter, which encompasses Highland, Brown and Clermont counties, coordinates the local efforts by placing the wreaths at the Highland County Veterans Memorial in Hillsboro and at the Ohio Veterans Home in Georgetown.
“The motto is no soldier will ever be forgotten until the last person says their name, so the intent is to keep the legacy of the soldiers alive,” said Wilkin. “We do the wreaths down at Georgetown because Highlanders covers multiple counties, and there may be over 100 wreaths that we place down there. Probably 10 or 20 percent of the people memorialized on that walkway are Highland County individuals.”
Wreaths Across America is a national non-profit organization best known for remembering fallen veterans with wreaths placed each December at Arlington National Cemetery.
The organization’s founder, Morrill Worcester, was inspired when he saw Arlington National Cemetery after winning a trip to Washington, D.C. as a 12-year-old paper boy.
Eventually, he founded the Worcester Wreath Company, and in 1992, with the help of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, 5,000 wreaths were placed at Arlington National Cemetery.
In 2005, a photo of Arlington covered in snow adorned with wreaths prompted thousands of requests from people wanting to emulate the effort on the local level. This led to the formation of Wreaths Across America as a national nonprofit in 2007.
In 2008, more than 60,000 volunteers helped to place 100,000 wreaths on veterans’ headstones. Recognizing the organization’s impact, the United States Congress unanimously voted to declare “National Wreaths Across America Day” to be held annually, on the second or third Saturday of December.
“The actual Wreaths Across America is a weeklong thing,” said Wilkin. “The actual day that congress passed legislation on falls on the 17th this year. The other members of the Highlanders that meet me at Georgetown will then go back to their communities and do a ceremony there.”
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.