4th year for Wreaths Across America at Greenville Union Cemetery

Staff report

GREENVILLE — Fort GreeneVille Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) hosted a ceremony at noon on December 18, for National Wreaths Across America Day. Thanks to the donors, sponsors, volunteers, and especially those who donated during the wreath matching last January. Attendees were able to honor 1,592 Veterans’ graves at Greenville Union Cemetery.

The ceremony began with a thirty-second moment of silence to remember the fallen, the prisoners of war, the missing in action, and to honor those who are serving, or have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. The Versailles Veterans Color Guard posted the colors, opening prayer was led by DAR Chaplain Karen Burkett, and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Boy Scout Troop 134.

Opening remarks were delivered by DAR members Debbie Nisonger and Linda Riley. Riley thanked armed service veterans for their commitment to our country, and reminded all in attendance of the sacrifices made by veterans and their families.

“This nation has always been the first to stand up for the freedom of people from around the world. Many of you here today have answered that call and served your country well,” Riley said. “For this, we say, ‘thank you,’ and we are honored to know you.”

The ceremonial wreaths for all the military branches and first responders were laid by the following:

-Steve Black presented a wreath to Matt Carter, a veteran of the United States Army.

-Chuck Bowen presented a wreath to Don Miller, in dedication to his service in the U.S. Marine Corps.

-Richard Grow presented a ceremonial wreath to Tom Baker, in honor of his service in the U.S. Navy.

-Chris Eberst Nehring, a retired United States Air Force veteran, handed ceremonial wreaths to Thomas Pitman, for the United States Air Force, and Cameron Knukle, active United States Army, who represented the United States Space Force.

-Jason Winterrowd presented a wreath to Rich Hadden, in honor of the United States Coast Guard.

-Mike Wise, Navy, handed the United States Merchant Marines ceremonial wreath to Andrew Bryant, Navy.

-Kathy Hoblit Bowen, in memory of Donald Hoblit, World War II POW, handed a ceremonial wreath to U.S. Congressman Warren Davidson, in honor of the 93,129 United States Servicemen from all branches of the service, whose last known status was either prisoners of war, or missing in action. These individuals have never returned to their families and homes. This wreath was presented to signify that we will not forget those of POW or MIA status.

-Lastly, Greenville City Firefighter Brad Wilcox, handed the ceremonial wreath to Greenville Police Chief Eric Roberts, to honor first responders.

Following the ceremonial wreath laying, US Congressman Warren Davidson was the guest speaker. Davidson himself served in the United States Army.

Closing remarks were delivered by DAR member Virginia Kagey. Kagey reminded the crowd that the wreath laying ceremony is not intended to “decorate graves,” but rather, we are here to remember not their deaths, but their lives. “Each wreath is a gift of appreciation from a grateful America.”

The ceremony came to a close with the playing of the taps and a heartfelt rendition of “Amazing Grace” by Del Braun on the bagpipes, as he slowly circled the soldier monument.

In attendance were approximately 100 volunteers, who helped set up and lay wreaths in both the cemetery’s old and new sections, in inclement weather. For the early shift of volunteers, Scott’s McDonald’s, Eikenberrys, and Dr. Robert Maher provided refreshments.

Fort GreeneVille DAR would like to thank Congressman Warren Davidson, the Versailles Veterans Color Guard, Del Braun, Boy Scout Troop 134, Retired Capt. Keith Denman, and Tracy Tyron, Greenville Union Cemetery Superintendent. Thank you to Zechar Bailey Funeral Home for sponsoring the soldiers section each year. Thank you to all the businesses and individuals who donated. Their community support is what makes this event such a success.

Business sponsors included Treaty City Industries, Park National Bank, Dr. Stentzel, Greenville Masonic Craft Club, Eastern Star Fort Black Chapter 336, Darke County Womens Republican Federation, American Legion Aux. Post 140, American Legion Post 140, VFW Post 7262, Fort GreeneVille Chapter DAR, and Lasting Legacy Memorials.

Every year the event has been able to increase the amount of wreaths. In 2018, volunteers placed 315 wreaths. In 2019, 428 wreaths, and 1,231 in 2020. This year thanks to everyone, especially those who donated during the wreath matching last January, the goal to place wreaths on every veteran’s grave at Greenville Union Cemetery was accomplished. A total of 1,592 veterans were honored.

On behalf of the DAR, a very special thank you to Darke County residents, Richard and Katie Grow. They traveled to Columbia Falls, Maine, to pick up the wreaths used at the ceremony, a 2,300-mile round trip. They delivered a total of 5,265 wreaths to four locations.

The Dec. 18 WAA event can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mk6zE7yfIXs.