Wreaths cross America
Military veterans were well remembered on Saturday, Dec. 14 as volunteers from around Ottawa County and the U.S. joined hands to place wreaths at their grave sites during the annual Wreaths Across America ceremonies.
The local cemeteries hosting this year’s Wreaths Across America were Sackett Cemetery in Danbury Township, Catawba Island Cemetery in Catawba Island Township, and the Elmore Union Cemetery and the Clay Township Cemetery in Elmore.
Despite a chilly rain on Saturday morning, every location drew a crowd of volunteers to make sure a wreath was place on each veteran’s grave, the veterans names were spoken, and the National Anthem and taps were played. The solemn and soulful speakers remembered the bravery and sacrifices made by military veterans.
Michelle Waldron and Karyn Kovach hosted Wreaths Across America at Sackett Cemetery, an annual event begun in 1992 at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington D.C. Morrill Worcester of Worcester Wreath Company in Maine, wanted to place a surplus of wreaths he had at Arlington National Cemetery in one of the older sections of the cemetery. The event gained national attention in 2005 when a photo of the stones at Arlington, adorned with wreaths, went viral online.
State Senator Theresa Gavarone spoke at the Wreaths Across America ceremony at Catawba Island Cemetery. Wreaths were laid by veterans for military veterans of all five branches of service. The organizer for the Catawba ceremony was Diane Belden with Kevin Kyle serving as master of ceremonies. Gaverone also placed a wreath at the bronze statue of the Fallen Soldier.
Also attending the ceremony was Marines Forever Honor Guard made up of a group of former U.S. Marines in full dress uniform. The 309th U.S. Coast Guard platoon from Camp Perry also stood in formation in silent tribute.
This year, more than 1,600 cemeteries across the country hosted the celebrations. At Arlington, more than 100,000 volunteers placed 253,000 wreaths on veterans graves.
“My father and his brothers grew up in Marblehead, and were military veterans,” said Michele Oglesbee Vandrak, of Twinsburg. “It was so wonderful to be (at Sackett Cemetery) for the Wreaths Across America celebration for them.”
Vandrak’s uncle, Eddie Oglesbee, is buried at Sackett Cemetery, as well as her uncle, Welsey Oglesbee, and cousin, James Rokosky.
“Too often the sacrifices made by our nation’s fighting forces are overlooked and forgotten,” said Executive Petty Officer David Turner, at Coast Guard Station Marblehead. “Today, we have comfortable lives due to the actions and sacrifices made by members of the armed forces both today, and in the past. Those of us in the military want to thank you all for being here and honoring these men and women, many who paid the ultimate price for defending our nation.”
Placing wreaths at the Veterans Circle at Sackett Cemetery were Wally Mahler (Army), Jonathan McClellan (Marines), Joe Monakl (Navy), David McDougall (Air Force). Angela Fishburn sang the National Anthem. The Marblehead VFW Post 7572 fired a rifle volley to honor the veterans, the Coast Guard’s honor guard carried the U.S. flag and Matt Pollard played taps.
Following the Sackett Cemetery celebration, volunteers placed wreaths on veterans graves at St. Joseph’s, Russian Orthodox, St. Mary’s, Clemmons and Johnson’s Island cemeteries.