Cemeteries spanning the world are paying their respects to thousands of veterans on Saturday as part of the Wreaths Across America day.
The Nevada Veterans Coalition reached its goal to honor more than 32,000 veterans in the largest ceremony in Northern Nevada, while the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City will honor more than 28,000 veterans. In addition to the ceremony at Fernley, the NDVS said the ceremony will also be conducted at Lone Mountain Cemetery in Carson City and Eastside Memorial Park in Minden.
Spokesman Ton Draughon said the NVC received enough donations to place wreaths at veterans’ gravesites at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley. The national day of remembrance begins at 9 a.m. and is conducted in all 50 states, U.S. territories and other countries where servicemen and women are interred. Draughon said the start time at the NNVMC coincides with the Wreaths Across America ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery that begins at noon.
“This is our fifth year at 100 percent,” Draughon said. “So that’s the good news.”
The NNVMC began receiving wreaths this week, which are being shipped from Maine, and Draughon said volunteers are unloading the boxes as they arrive. Kat Miller, director of the Nevada Department of Veterans Services, said members from different organizations volunteer each year and assist where needed. Miller, who will attend this year’s remembrance, added the day is truly a moving experience to see and be a part of the involvement in honoring veterans.
Before the actual placement of wreaths occurs at the NNVMC, Draughon said the ceremony recognizes each branch of service. A veteran associated with each service is accompanied with either a cadet from the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps or Civil Air Patrol. Sailors from Naval Air Station Fallon as well as soldiers and airmen from the Nevada National Guard and other groups also volunteer their time to assist the coalition. Wendy Simons, deputy director of wellness for the NDVS, said Wreaths Across America is a program that has the support of both civilians and the military.
NVC became involved with Wreaths Across America 11 years ago, and the coalition’s goal, according to Draughon, was to provide a wreath for every veteran. Since that time, Draughon said donations have steadily increased each year as has the number of veterans who have been interred at the cemetery. Draughon considers this an important day of remembrance, second only to Memorial Day. Wreaths Across America was developed on the idea to “Remember, Honor, Teach” by coordinating wreath laying ceremonies on a specified day in December.
“Getting donations for the wreaths with the increased growth has been a challenge,” Draughon added.
According to the Wreaths Across America website, “We understand we have Veterans Day in the fall and Memorial Day in the spring, but our service members sacrifice their time and safety every single day of the year to preserve our freedoms.
“In many homes, there is an empty seat for one who is serving or one who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. There is no better time to express our appreciation than during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. We hope you will join us at any of our more than 1,400 participating locations to show our veterans and their families that we will not forget. We will never forget.”
The coalition accepts donations year-round for Wreaths Across America. Sponsorship of a wreath may be made directly to the cemetery or by accessing the NVC website of Facebook page. Draughon said the coalition begins its planning about six months in advance.
The NNVMC is located at 14 Veterans Way. Individuals attending the event are encouraged to arrive early because of the large number of people who attend the ceremony. With morning temperatures expected to hover in the 30s, Draughon urges visitors to dress warmly.