BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN
On a typically chilly Saturday morning in December, people took time out to remember veterans buried at three cemeteries around Ottawa County — and all around the country — during Wreaths Across America ceremonies.
Always a somber experience, more than 1,100 wreaths were placed at veterans graves at Riverview, Lakeview and LaCarpe cemeteries. Wreaths Across America ceremonies were being held simultaneously at more than 2,500 cemeteries, with more than 2 million wreaths.
At Riverview Cemetery on the west side of Port Clinton, a VFW honor guard fired its rifles, and retired pastor and veteran Chuck Taylor spoke in remembrance.
Local organizer Sara Toris of the Ottawa County Wreath Committee and the director of the Ottawa County Veterans Service Office, reiterated that “we are not here to decorate graves. We are here to remember not their deaths, but their lives. Each wreath is a gift of appreciation from a grateful America.”
It was a special morning for Diane Ball of Port Clinton, as she laid a wreath on the grave of her father, Douglas ‘Skip’ McDougal, a U.S. Navy veteran and Ottawa County Sheriff’s Deputy.
“He was a wonderful man. He died three years ago, and has been sorely missed,” said Ball. “Wreaths Across America is a fitting way for the family and the community to remember him.”
Bill Poiry of the Black Swamp Pipes & Drums, who has become a familiar face around Ottawa County in a very short time while playing his bagpipes, played “Sunset Solidarity” while slowly stepping through the cemetery. A firefighter and EMT for the Allen Clay Joint Fire District, the Greytown bag piper said their group’s mission is simple.
“To Honor Our Fallen,” said Poiry. “It is an honor for me to be here, to recognize their sacrifices.”