Yuma Sun

Yu­mans honor vet­er­ans in Wreaths Across Amer­ica

- BY KAREN BOWEN SPE­CIAL TO THE SUN

The weather was per­fect Satur­day morn­ing for the Na­tional Wreaths Across Amer­ica Day cer­e­mony held at Desert Lawn Me­mo­rial Ceme­tery.

The sun was shin­ing and there was just enough wind to wave the U.S., Ari­zona and mil­i­tary flags fly­ing over­head. Vet­er­ans, the pub­lic, ac­tive-duty mil­i­tary per­son­nel, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Civil Air Pa­trol cadets gath­ered to pay trib­ute to vet­er­ans laid to rest at Desert Lawn Me­mo­rial Ceme­tery.

Na­tional Wreaths Across Amer­ica Day is a spe­cial day held the third Satur­day in De­cem­ber to pay re­spect to our fallen sol­diers and to honor our mil­i­tary vet­er­ans and those cur­rently serv­ing in the armed forces.

“2012 was the last time Yuma had a Wreaths Across Amer­ica cer­e­mony,” said Con­nie Whitener, who with Doris Peeples, co­or­di­nated the event. “Doris and I de­cided it was time for an­other one.

“It was so grat­i­fy­ing to see our young peo­ple work­ing along­side our vet­er­ans plac­ing wreaths. We hope more youth or­ga­ni­za­tions are in­volved in next year’s cer­e­mony. It is such a won­der­ful and mov­ing event and helps our youth un­der­stand what our vet­er­ans have done to pro­tect our coun­try.”

Peeples added: “We hope to con­tinue plac­ing wreaths each De­cem­ber and wel­come any­one in­ter­ested in help­ing us or­ga­nize the event. In­di­vid­u­als and or­ga­ni­za­tions who wish to par­tic­i­pate in Na­tional Wreaths Across Amer­ica Day next year are al­ways wel­come. Yuma is a pa­tri­otic town, and we hope the event will grow into a re­ally won­der­ful event honor­ing our mil­i­tary.”

Mem­bers of Cub Scouts Pack 55, Boy Scouts Troop 53, and Civil Air Pa­trol cadets from Cas­tle Dome Ju­nior High School and Gila Ridge High School helped place wreaths be­side vet­er­ans’ graves. Yuma vet­er­ans, the Bar­bel Sub­ma­rine vet­er­ans unit and the pub­lic also laid wreaths and paid their re­spects to those who served Amer­ica.

“It is al­ways good when we have an op­por­tu­nity to show re­spect for our vet­er­ans and the sac­ri­fices they made pro­tect­ing Amer­ica,” said Joey Burkart, a Civil Air Pa­trol cadet. “I am proud to be part of Na­tional Wreaths Across Amer­ica Day and would like to par­tic­i­pate next year.”

At the cer­e­mony, Ma­rine Chap­lain Abra­ham Jiregna spoke about the role our mil­i­tary plays in pro­tect­ing our per­sonal free­doms.

“Free­dom does not come with­out a price,” he said. “Men and women have given their lives so we can have the free­dom and se­cu­rity we en­joy in Amer­ica. The free­doms found in the Bill of Rights, which in­clude the free­dom to wor­ship as we choose, as­sem­ble, speak as we wish, write what we want and the free­dom to bear arms are pro­tected by our armed forces. We shall al­ways re­mem­ber and honor our vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies for the sac­ri­fices they have made.”

Af­ter a mo­ment of si­lence to honor our vet­er­ans, Kait­lynn Dutton of Ci­bola High School sang “God Bless Amer­ica.” Color Guard Post 56 posted and re­tired the col­ors and Honor Guard Post 19 pre­sented a 21-gun salute.

Wreaths were hung in front of the Vet­er­ans’ Me­mo­rial in honor of the six mil­i­tary branches and POW/MIAs. Civil Air Pa­trol cadets from Gila Ridge High School and Cas­tle Dome Ju­nior High School —Bran­don Sarrasin, Noah Wil­liams, Tris­tan Ober­gon, Hans Sch­midt, Kylie Erick­son and Joey Burkart — along with Michael Wil­liams of Boy Scout Troop 53, pre­sented the wreaths to lo­cal vet­er­ans who hung them be­side the mon­u­ment.

“Na­tional Wreaths Across Amer­ica Day is a great event, both lo­cally and na­tion­wide. Any time we can honor our vet­er­ans and in­crease com­mu­nity aware­ness of our mil­i­tary and the job they do is won­der­ful,” said Andy Nor­iega, a Ma­rine vet­eran of the Viet­nam War.

“This event is an op­por­tu­nity to not only re­mem­ber our vet­er­ans but to ac­tu­ally show our grat­i­tude by plac­ing wreaths be­side their head­stones,” said T.C. Hul­tine, an Air Force vet­eran who served in Viet­nam in 1971.

 ?? PHOTO BY KAREN BOWEN ?? CIVIL AIR PA­TROL CADETS Bran­don Sar­rasin and Tris­tan Obre­gon place wreaths in honor of fallen vet­er­ans at Desert Lawn Memo­rial Ceme­tery as part of the na­tion­wide Wreaths Across Amer­ica Day that hon­ored fallen vet­er­ans with wreaths.
PHOTO BY KAREN BOWEN CIVIL AIR PA­TROL CADETS Bran­don Sar­rasin and Tris­tan Obre­gon place wreaths in honor of fallen vet­er­ans at Desert Lawn Memo­rial Ceme­tery as part of the na­tion­wide Wreaths Across Amer­ica Day that hon­ored fallen vet­er­ans with wreaths.

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