Yumans honor veterans in Wreaths Across America
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.