Vernon community cemetery was among more than 3,000 sites nationwide included in National Wreaths Across America Day on Saturday, Dec. 18.
The project was led locally by Vernon High School’s JROTC cadets with the assistance of several volunteers.
The program features the remembering the nation’s fallen heroes by reading their names aloud and placing wreaths on their headstones.
Organizers say each live, balsam veteran’s wreath was a gift of respect and appreciation, sponsored by an individual or organization and placed on a headstone by volunteers as a gesture of gratitude for the freedoms Americans enjoy.
For centuries, fresh evergreens have been used as a symbol of honor and have served as a living tribute renewed annually. Wreaths Across America believes the tradition represents a living memorial that honors veterans, active-duty military, and their families.
When each wreath is placed the service member’s name is said out loud, ensuring their memory lives on.
Nationally, the project saw more than two million volunteers who placed more than 2.4 million veterans’ wreaths.
Now in its 30th year, Wreaths Across America is a tradition started by Maine wreathmaker Morrill Worcester who began placing wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery as a gift of thanks. That tradition soon spread to other sites, including Vernon.
Worcester, who once again made the trek to Arlington this year, says he is thankful that others like the Vernon JROTC cadets have taken up the project.
“When I brought down those 5,000 wreaths that first year, I just thought it was a way for me to say thank you, for what we have in this Country,” said Worcester.
“I could have never imagined it would strike a chord like it has and make such an impact. Me and my family continued to be humbled by the support this program receives across the country.”