Gratitude and Respect

Wreaths Across America honors military veterans during the holidays

Warren County’s inaugural Wreaths Across America ceremony was held at Wesleyan Cemetery in Sugar Grove on Saturday.

“The weather was frightful with the Friday and Saturday morning snow,” said Judy Fry of the Sugar Grove AMVETS. Still the inaugural Wreaths Across America service was “great.”

The first of its kind in Warren County, the service is a national event to honor military veterans during the Christmas holiday. Organized this year to be held at the Wesleyan Cemetery in Sugar Grove by local veteran David Krespan’s daughter Stacey, who lives out of state, the service was carried off by AMVETS and volunteers. The ceremony began with a moment of silence to remember the fallen, said Fry, as well as prisoners of war, those missing in action, and those who served and are serving in the armed forces. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by AMVETS Post 50 color guard, and Sheffield High School student Carter O’Donnell played the national anthem on his saxophone. Fry said that Past National Commander/AMVETS Post 50 Commander Gary Fry then stated that “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 community and America,” said Fry. “Today we show gratitude and respect across the United States as we remember the fallen, honor those who serve, and teach our children the value of freedom.”

Seven wreaths were placed at the cemetery in honor of those who served the United States Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Merchant Marines, and Prisoners of War/Missing in Action. Those wreaths were placed by American Legion 758 District Commander Dick Morgan, said Fry, before Taps was played by Sandy Kiedrowski, an Air Force veteran and member of AMVETS Post 50.

Fry said that “family members that were present placed their individual wreaths on their loved ones’ graves, then the other 100 volunteers assisted in placing 93 Wreaths Across America live balsam wreaths in honor of the armed forces of our great nation and to their families who endure sacrifices every day on our behalf.”

Volunteers ranged in age from 6 to 92, with the help of AMVETS Post 50, American Legion 758, Warren Civil Air Patrol, and civilian community members making the event possible, said Fry. Between themselves, Dave and Stacey Krespan, New Beginnings Restaurant, Ted Carrington, Randy and Chris Fosberg, Briggs Trucking, Meridian Hardwood, Todd Briggs, and Tom Abbot, said Fry, enough funds were raised to cover all of the veterans’ graves at the Wesleyan Cemetery.