1,602 wreaths placed to remember veterans


By Ryan Berry


GREENVILLE — In 2018, 315 veterans were recognized in the Wreaths Across America event at Greenville-Union Cemetery. Organizers had a goal of one day placing a wreath on every veteran’s grave at the cemetery. On Saturday, Dec. 17, Fort GreeneVille Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) reached that goal and placed 1,602 wreaths. The effort was part of DAR’s Wreaths Across America initiative that continues to take place across the United States.

Vice Regent Debbie Nisonger opened the even by saying, “Thank you for joining us here today as we celebrate the mission to remember the fallen, honor those that serve and their families and teach the next generation the value of freedom.” Approximately 70 individuals took part in the ceremony and placing the wreaths across the cemetery.

DAR Regent Penny Weaver said, “This year, across the country at more than 3,400 participating locations like this one, there are millions of Americans gathering safely as one nation to remember, honor and teach. We are all proud to be Americans that live in a free society made up of many people, from many walks of life. The freedoms we enjoy today have not come without a price. Lying here before us and in cemeteries throughout this nation are men and women who gave their lives so that we can live in freedom and without fear.”

Brigadier General Dale White, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, was the guest speaker for the event. He praised DAR for moving forward with this project. “Putting these things together is never easy,” he said. I’ve been part of some of these before. It’s a pretty significant challenge. Thanks for your leadership in the community and larger Greenville community for doing this.”

General White challenged participants in the event to make the wreath laying personal. “I remember when my children were younger, and I would bring them out to do this. It was always a personal thing for us. The two things I would always tell them is reflect and remember. Reflect on what it takes to maintain and preserve the freedoms of this nation in this experiment we call democracy and then remember those who came before us who served to protect it. Many of those gave the ultimate sacrifice. Some of those are laid to rest here on the ground that we stand on today. Make it personal and make it personal in a sense that it’s not just about a wreath. It’s about a nation and communities together across this entire nation to reflect, to remember, to honor and respect. I will tell you a nation and communities are only as strong as their people, as strong as their passion and as strong as their heart.” He added, “If you want to reflect change in a nation, it starts here at events like this.”

The one-star general also encouraged everyone to “find a way to serve.” He said, “We’ve kind of convinced ourselves that you have to wear a uniform or a patch to serve. That’s just not true. As each of you roll into 2023 think about how you can continue to serve. If you’re already serving, I’d ask that you go find a friend and bring someone else to serve alongside you. That’s what the future of our nation is about.”

In addition to laying a wreath at the grave of each veteran, a special ceremony was held to collectively remember those who have passed. Eight wreaths were laid at the veterans’ memorial in the cemetery to recognize each branch of service, including Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marines, as well as a wreath in remembrance of the 93,129 United States servicemen from all branches of service whose last known status was either Prisoner of War or Missing in Action. A wreath was also laid in remembrance of all first responders.

DAR member Virginia Kagey followed up on General White’s words and encouraged individuals setting the wreaths to make it personal. She said, “We encourage every volunteer here today, who places a wreath on a veteran’s grave, to say that veteran’s name aloud and take a moment to thank them for their service to our country. It’s a small act that goes a long way toward keeping the memory of our veterans alive.”

In addition to General White and DAR, those participating in the ceremony or volunteering their help were Pastor Alan Knoke, Versailles Color Guard, Del Braun, Greenville High School ROTC, Boy Scout Troop 134, Classic Carrier and Lucas Subler and many businesses and individuals.

To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].

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