National Wreaths Across America Day Ceremony at Greenville Union Cemetery

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(Chris Norris Photo)

GREENVILLE – Saturday, December 16, was National Wreaths Across America Day. The Forte GreeneVille Chapter of Daughter of the American Revolution held a ceremony to honor this day at the Greenville Union Cemetery. This is just one of over 4,000 ceremonies across the country. 

“Thank you for joining us today as we celebrate the mission to remember the fallen, honor those that serve and their families, and teach the next generation the value of freedom,” Chaplain Karen Burkett of DAR said. 

The event then started with a moment of silence, the Greenville High School NJROTC (Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps) presenting the colors, an opening prayer given by Burkett, and the Pledge of Allegiance led by Boy Scout Troops 134. 

Following this, DAR Regent Penny Weaver gave opening remarks. 

(Chris Norris Photo)

“There are millions of Americans gathering safely as one nation to remember, honor, and teach,” Weaver said. “We are all proud to be Americans that live in a free society made up of many people from many walks of life. The freedoms we enjoy today have not come without a price. Lying here before us and in cemeteries throughout this nation are men and women who gave their lives so that we can live in freedom and without fear.” 

Weaver went on to quote Former President Ronald Reagan. 

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same or one day, we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States, where men were free.” 

Weaver finished by sharing what the National Wreaths Across America Day Ceremony is for. To Remember, Honor, and Teach. 

“Today, We show a united front of gratitude and respect across the United States of America as we remember the fallen, honor those who serve and their families, and teach the next generation the value of freedom,” Weaver said. 

The Greenville High School NJROTC presented arms as ceremonial wreaths were laid. 

The Darke County Honor Guard laid veterans’ wreaths in memory of those who served and are serving in the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marines.

Sandra Walters, a Gold Star Family, laid a remembrance wreath in honor of the 93,129 U.S. Servicemen whose last known status was either Prisoners of War or Missing in Action. 

“These individuals have never returned to their families and homes,” said Drema Hiestand. “We shall not forget you.” 

Lastly, DAR recognized all first responders. Jeff Dohmn, a retired firefighter, laid a wreath in honor of all First Responders.

DAR member Virginia Kagey made closing remarks. 

“We encourage every volunteer here today who places a wreath on a veteran’s grave to say that veteran’s name aloud and take a moment to thank them for their service to our country,” Kagey said. “It’s a small act. That goes a long way toward keeping the memory of our veterans alive. Remember, we are not here to ‘decorate graves.’ We are here to remember not their deaths but their lives. Each wreath is a gift of appreciation from a grateful America.” 

Following a closing prayer given by Burkett, the Dark County Honor Guard played Taps, the NJROTC retired the colors, and Del Braun played Amazing Grace on the bagpipe. 

Before volunteers set out to place wreaths across the cemetery, DAR Vice Regent Debbie Nisonger took a moment to thank those who made the ceremony possible. 

Darke County Honor Guard, Bagpiper Del Braun, Greenville High School ROTC, Diane Evans, Chuck Bowen, Torri and Mike Brown, Rex Stewart, Mike and Sherri Jones, Kyle Kagey, Dave and Kate Christian, Boy Scout Troop 134, all the businesses and individuals who donated, Zechar Bailey Funeral Home, Classic Carriers Lucas Subler, Richard Grow, and Katie Grow. 

This year, DAR was able to meet their goal and place wreaths on all 1,611 Veteran graves at Greenville Union Cemetery. This year, St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery and Historical Water St. Cemetery also participated. This is the first year St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery participated, and they had approximately 160 wreaths.