Cadets seek wreath sponsors for graves
Posted: November 6, 2012
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — Preparations are under way for a Dec. 15 ceremony that will pay tribute to the American veterans buried in Winchester National Cemetery.
Civil Air Patrol Cadets of the Winchester Composite Squadron will place wreaths on the graves of hundreds of fallen soldiers to honor their service, said Capt. Larry J. Mayer, deputy commander of the squadron.
But they don’t have enough wreaths to decorate all of the graves.
“We hate laying out hundreds of wreaths only to see so many of them empty,” he said. “There are more than 5,000 graves there. Realistically, we would like to see at least 1,000 this year.”
Last year, about 400 wreaths — paid for by local donations and sponsorships — were placed on graves at the cemetery at 401 National Ave. Organizers hope to increase that number this year and eventually place wreaths on all of the 5,561 graves in the cemetery, Mayer said.
The cadets will lay the wreaths on individual graves, starting at 10:30 a.m., and the ceremony will start at noon.
The observance, one of more than 500 held simultaneously nationwide, is part of Wreaths Across America. The program works to remember fallen heroes, honor those serving today and teach children about the sacrifices made by veterans and their families to preserve their freedoms, Mayer said.
Wreath sponsorships are $15 each, with a portion of the proceeds going to support the Winchester Squadron — which has 54 cadets and 25 adult members.
The cadets are making a concerted effort to get the word out about the program in hopes of increasing donations and sponsorships, Mayer said.
“We are simply looking to draw on the community,” he said.
Cadets are training for the ceremony with a nine-member color guard that will represent all branches of the armed forces and another group playing taps. Other cadets will escort the wreaths as they are put on the graves.
Most of the wreaths will be placed before the ceremony, Mayer said. But at noon, ceremonial wreaths will be laid to honor those who served in all the armed forces and the Merchant Marines, as well as soldiers who were prisoners of war or missing in action.
There also will be a speaker for the event, but that person has not been named.
The Worchester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, started Wreaths Across American in 1992, eventually going nationwide in 2006. The effort partnered with the Civil Air Patrol that year.
The CAP is the auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. It provides disaster relief, does search and rescue, plays a leading role in aerospace education and mentors 26,000 young Americans in its cadet program.
Sponsorships ($15) for Wreaths Across America are due by Nov. 22. To participate, contact the Winchester Composite Squadron at email@example.com. For more information on the Winchester Squadron go to vawg.cap.gov/winchesteror facebook.com/winchestercap.
— Contact Laura McFarland at firstname.lastname@example.org