Veter­ans hon­ored at Christ­mas

■ More than 750 wreaths placed on vet­eran’s graves at Oak Hill Ceme­tery.

Siloam Springs Herald Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By Hunter McFer­rin Staff Writer hm­c­fer­[email protected]

A mix of com­mu­nity mem­bers gath­ered at Oak Hill Ceme­tery on Satur­day morn­ing to help lay wreaths on the head­stones of veter­ans buried in Siloam Springs.

The oc­ca­sion is called “Christ­mas Honors,” and was fa­cil­i­tated by the Amer­i­can Le­gion Siloam Post 29. It was spon­sored by LaZ-Boy and Wal­mart and this was the first year for it to take place. Oth­ers who helped make the day pos­si­ble were vol­un­teers from the com­mu­nity as well as the De­catur High School Foot­ball team, who came to help pre­pare the wreaths on Fri­day night at the parks and recre­ation of­fice.

The morn­ing be­gan at 9 a.m., a time that fam­i­lies of de­ceased veter­ans were in­vited to lay wreaths on graves of their loved ones. After­ward a cer­e­mony, which was open to the pub­lic, be­gan with the post­ing of the col­ors from Post 29’s Honor Guard. Fol­low­ing the post­ing of the col­ors was the na­tional an­them, a prayer and a brief speech from Siloam Springs Mayor John Turner, who ex­plained the sig­nif­i­cance of the day.

“Why a wreath?” Turner asked. “Back in the days when the Ro­mans were con­quer­ing most of the world as they knew it at that time, they would use a wreath or a lau­rel and place it on the crown of the vic­tors, whether it was war or sport­ing events, what­ever it might be, the wreath was used as a sym­bol of honor. That is what we are do­ing to­day, as some of us have al­ready come here ear­lier and placed wreaths on our fam­ily’s tomb­stones and we’re go­ing to have a bunch more put out here in just a lit­tle bit, and that’s what you are do­ing, you are hon­or­ing those men and women who gave their time and many of them their lives, for our coun­try.

“Many paid the ul­ti­mate sacri­fice in mak­ing sure that we have the op­por­tu­nity to come here to­day, speak out and honor them. We just want to keep them in our hearts and in our pray­ers, and their famililies, and we want to pub­licly thank them and the fam­i­lies who gave their loved ones to serve in our armed forces.”

The Bat­tle Hymn of the Repub­lic was played af­ter Turner’s ad­dress, fol­lowed by a ri­fle salute that was car­ried out by mem­bers of Post 29 and af­ter­wards, at­ten­dees were given in­struc­tions to be­gin lay­ing wreaths. The event is ex­pected to take place again next year and Post 29 is also ask­ing for vol­un­teers to help with re­mov­ing and stor­ing the wreaths, which is sched­uled to take place on Jan. 5 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., ac­cord­ing to a Dec. 12 re­port from the Her­ald-Leader.

The Amer­i­can Le­gion Siloam Post 29 op­er­ates out of the Com­mu­nity Build­ing, lo­cated at 110 N. Mt. Olive St. For those in­ter­ested in help­ing with re­mov­ing the wreaths or for any other ques­tions about Post 29, call Marie Wil­banks at 850-520-0335.

Hunter McFer­rin/Her­ald-Leader

The Amer­i­can Le­gion Siloam Post 29 hosted “Christ­mas Honors” on Satur­day morn­ing at Oak Hill Ceme­tery. The event’s pur­pose was to honor the more than 750 fallen veter­ans that were buried at the ceme­tery by plac­ing wreaths on each of their head­stones. Be­fore this took place, the morn­ing also fea­tured the post­ing of the col­ors from Post 29’s Honor Guard, a prayer, the na­tional an­them, a ri­fle salute and a short speech from Siloam Springs Mayor John Turner. Above, a boy looks down at a vet­eran’s head­stone af­ter plac­ing a wreath on it.

Hunter McFer­rin/Her­ald-Leader

Amer­i­can Le­gion mem­bers per­formed a ri­fle salute just be­fore be­fore the lay­ing of wreaths on the head­stones of de­ceased veter­ans.

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