Wreaths across America honors veterans

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  • Young volunteers place wreaths in honor of one who served.

  • PHOTOS BY VERA OLINSKI Some of the over 200 wreaths which remember and honor those who served.

  • Members of the armed services hold remembrance wreaths in honor of each military branch.

  • The VFW Wallkill Valley Post #8441 shoots a three volley salute.

VERNON — The Vernon “Wreaths Across America ceremony” was held Saturday, Dec. 16, in the snow covered Glenwood Cemetery, to honor over 200 veterans. Henry Kubik explained, people across the nation were also gathering at more than 1,200 memorial sites to “Remember, Honor, and Teach.”

During a moment of silence, over 50 people remembered the fallen, prisoners of war, missing in action, and honored those who have and are serving in the armed services.

Kubik reminded attendees, they were placing wreaths on the gravestones of veterans not as decoration, but to remember the lives of those who served and fought for freedom. He continued, it was a day to “Remember the fallen, Honor those who serve, and Teach our children the value of freedom.”

He closed with, “These live balsam wreaths symbolize our honor to those who have served and are serving in the armed forces of our great nation and to their families, who endure sacrifices every day on our behalf."

Wreaths were laid in remembrance of those who served and are serving in the United States Armed services: Staff Sergeant Van Blarcom on behalf of the U.S. Army; Colonel Lanza - the U.S. Marine Corps; John Gonzalez - the U.S. Navy; John Schnackenberg - the U.S. Air Force; Sergeant Michael Weber - the U.S. Coast Guard; and Ken Kuzicki - the U.S. Merchant Marine; and James Opfer Army in memory of the 93,129 U.S. service members whose last known status is either prisoners of war or missing in action.

Language Arts Teacher Dawn Basso's seventh-grade classes recited the “American's Creed,” reminding of “Government of the people, by the people, and for the people ... for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.”

Vernon Mayor Harry Shortway read an anonymous Civil War poem stanza, “Rest soldier, sweetly rest; This gentle wreath shall deck your tomb, With fragrant blossoms of unfading bloom, To place upon thy breast.”

Dignitary Sussex County Freeholder George F. Graham attended; and the ceremony was organized by Justine Van Blarcom.

Before retiring the colors, represented by Boy Scout Troop 283, the VFW Wallkill Valley Post #8441 shot a three volley salute.

A Vernon Township High School student led the National Anthem; Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Cub Scouts led the Pledge of Allegiance, and Girl Scout Troop 94269 provided food and hot chocolate to participants.

After Vernon Township High School Sophomore Byce Grier finished playing “Taps,” a sobbing family embraced in the cold, and adult men wiped tears from their eyes.

At the end, John Loggie played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes, as wreaths were placed in memory of those who sacrificed for their country.

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