Veterans’ cemetery prepares for Wreaths Across America
LVN Editor Emeritus
The first shipment of wreaths arrived earlier this week for one of the biggest ceremonies conducted at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley.
The Wreaths Across America is a nationwide remembrance conducted in 50 states, U.S. territories and other countries where servicemen and women are interred. The day was developed in the early 1990s to thank veterans for preserving the American way of life.
Spokesman Tom Draughon of the Nevada Veterans Coalition said the NVC and other volunteers unloaded 232 boxes of wreaths on Tuesday and were expecting the rest prior to the ceremony. He said more than 7,000 veterans are interred at the NNVMC.
Draughon, who serves as master of ceremonies, said the event begins at 9 a.m., and the placement of the Christmas wreaths occurs afterward. The early start coincides with the ceremony at noon at the Arlington National Ceremony, which is across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.
The wreaths are placed at each veteran’s headstone or along the columbarium each year through the work of organizations and the public who wish to attend. Draughon said the NVC has enough wreaths to honor each veteran.
Prior to the placement of the wreaths, Draughon said the ceremony recognizes each branch of military service when either a cadet from the Civil Air Patrol or the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps accompanies a veteran from that branch of service and places a remembrance wreath at a medallion. 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.
In 2007 when the NVC became involved with Wreaths Across America, Draughon said the coalition’s goal was to provide a wreath for every veteran. That year the NVC placed 28 wreaths, and in 10 years, the donations have increased steadily.
Wreaths Across America was developed on the idea to “Remember, Honor, Teach,” by coordinating wreath laying ceremonies on a day in December in all 50 states and other countries. The popularity and significance has grown so much over the years that Draughon and other members of the NVC said Wreaths across America is the second most important veterans’ ceremony after Memorial Day.
“These wreaths are entirely funded through private donations in honor of veterans and family members who are placed at the Fernley cemetery,” said Kat Miller, director of the Nevada Department of Veterans Services at a previous ceremony. “We’re honored with this outpouring of support from the community and family who want to continue to remember those who have served and are no longer with us during the holiday season.”
Miller said members from different organizations come out each year to volunteer and assist where needed. She added the day is truly a moving experience to see and be a part of the involvement in honoring veterans.
Donations can be made now for next year at the NNVMC. Sponsorship of a wreath can be made directly to the cemetery or by accessing the NVC website or Facebook page.
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.