Wreaths Across America honors veterans

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  • Sergeant First Class Fernando Cova-Gomez places a wreath on a fellow veteran’s grave.

  • PHOTOS BY JANET REDYKEWreaths await placement on veterans’ graves a Glenwood Cemetery.

  • Sussex County Sheriff’s Corrections Honor Guard displays the colors.

  • Mayor Shortway was Master of Ceremony for the 2018 Wreaths across America ceremony on Dec. 15.

The Wreaths across America tradition began in 1992 when Morrill Worcester, a Maine wreath maker had a surplus of Christmas wreaths and donated them to be placed on veterans’ graves in Arlington National Cemetery.

The tradition has grown in 26 years to now include the placing of wreaths on veteran graves in national, state and local cemeteries. About 60 participants attended the ceremony and wreath laying at the Glenwood Cemetery at 10 a.m. on Dec. 15.

Mayor Harry Shortway acted as Master of Ceremony, welcoming all and mentioning that Wreaths across America is taking place across our country at 1,200 sites.

"Freedom doesn’t come without a price,” Shortway said. “It is extremely important to remember, honor and teach about the honoring event. We are not just decorating a grave, we are remembering not the service person’s death but their life."

Guest speaker was Vernon teacher and former Army Specialist Elizabeth Norman. Norman spoke of teaching her students pride in our country and its patriotic holidays and notable historical events.

“We can never take our country for granted,” Norman remarked. “Not all heroes wear capes.”

Current military personnel and veterans accompanied by members of Boy Scout Troop 283 displayed ceremonial wreaths for each branch of service. They included SSG Charles Van Blarcom, US Army, SFC Fernando Cova-Gomez, Col. Anthony Lanza, Former Navy Sonar Tech. John Gonzalez, Former SSG George Wiggins, SGT. Michael Weber, National Guard, former US Marine Ken Kuzicki and Mitch Ellicot, displaying a wreath in honor of POWs.

After a three-shot volley by the Vernon VFW Post, the playing of Taps and Amazing Grace on bagpipes, volunteers placed wreaths on graves and thanked the veteran for his or her service.

Locally in Sussex County, Wreaths across America took place at three cemeteries in Wantage, the Northern New Jersey Veterans in Sparta and the Old Newton Burial Ground as well as the Glenwood Cemetery.

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