PIQUA — Dec. 16, 2017, was National Wreaths Across America Day. As volunteers across the United States were placing wreaths on veteran’s graves, a group of volunteers gathered at Forest Hill Cemetery in Piqua. Volunteers from veterans’ organizations, Bethel United Methodist Church youth group, Girl Scout Troop 30006 and individuals led by Jerry Sowers and Penny Williamson of Melcher-Sowers Funeral Home placed over 400 wreaths in the cemetery for veterans buried.
Melcher-Sowers Funeral Home has partnered with Wreaths Across America as the official local sponsor for the last 10 years. Each year, the program has grown as the national program has expanded. The Worcester Wreath Co. in Harrington, Maine started the Arlington Wreath program in 1992. In 2005, the program gained national attention when photos of Arlington were circulated on the internet. By 2008, over 300 locations including ceremonies in every state, Puerto Rico and 24 overseas cemeteries. Volunteers were placing wreaths to adorn heroes’ graves. Last year, it was estimated that 1,200 additional locations and Arlington carried out coordinated wreath-laying ceremonies.
Remember our fallen U.S. veterans, honor those who serve, teach your children the value of freedom, the mission of Wreaths Across America. Volunteers are encouraged to speak the name of the veteran as they place the wreath, keeping the memory of our veterans alive.
The local goal was to get information regarding the project to as many as possible so that every veteran grave in the designated veteran burial areas would be decorated. As that goal would be accomplished volunteers, would lay wreaths on graves with veteran designation, i.e, a flag holder or plaque on the headstone. VFW Post # 4874, American Legion Post # 184 and Auxiliary, Western Ohio Chapter of Korean War Veterans sponsored wreath purchases as did churches, families and individuals. Melcher-Sowers Funeral Home was the designated delivery point for the wreaths.
At 10 a.m. Dec. 16, at the Veterans Memorial just outside of Forest Hill Cemetery, a ceremony was held to bless the wreaths, sponsors and volunteers. Pastor Maggie Sykes from Bethel UMC performed the blessing. Immediately after the blessing, wreaths were placed honoring each branch of the military. The Veterans Elite Tribute Squad honored all veterans with a 21-gun salute and playing of “Taps.”
Plans for the 2018 Wreaths Across America Day have started. Melcher-Sowers Funeral Home looks forward to continuing their sponsorship to honor veterans’ lives. Visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org to get more information.