Seven wreaths are placed, one for each of the six branches of the military and a seventh for prisoners of war during Wreaths Across America ceremony at the Chaves County Courthouse, Saturday morning. Mark Wilson Photo
Seven wreaths grace the memorial front of the Chaves County Courthouse. They’re not there as decoration, but as a small token of appreciation for those who made, and are still making, the ultimate sacrifice by serving our country.
Saturday morning was the official Wreaths Across America ceremony held by cities across the country. Michael Trujillo served as the event’s master of ceremonies and led the group gathered in a moment of silence before his opening remarks. During those remarks, he quoted former President Ronald Reagan. “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in bloodstream. It must be therefore, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
This statement resonated with Felix Sosa in particular. The former Navy 2nd class petty officer, who has a son serving in the Marine Corps, placed the wreath in honor of the Merchant Marines. He said it’s amazing to see a legacy of service passed down.
“I’ve got my son down in San Diego in the United States Marine Corps doing what I did; now I can sleep while he’s working. … It means a lot for him to serve in the military. I come from a military family. I’ve got six more brothers who were all military and some aunts and uncles as well, so it means a lot for him to serve.
For Greg Bergman, who placed the Prisoners of War or those Missing in Action wreath, the ceremony was a time to appreciate life. Bergman served four years in the Air Force and said he’s gained a greater respect for those who risked it all as well as the families that never saw them return home.
“There are just so many people who never came back and so many families that never got closure,” he said. “That’s really important to people, closure … it’s definitely the biggest honor I’ve had being able to lay that POW/MIA wreath.”
The event began in 1992 when Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, found itself with an abundance of wreaths after the holiday season ended. Years before that, Morrill Worcester, owner of the company, took a trip to Arlington National Cemetery and the experience stuck with him well into adulthood. When the time came for Worcester to dispose of the excess wreaths, he decided to honor America’s veterans by adorning the older sections of the cemetery.
This project continued on for several years almost in secrecy, but gained national attention in 2005 and Wreaths Across America was born. It is projected that more than 400,000 wreaths will be placed nationwide by more than 150,00 volunteers.
The wreaths will be taken down at 1 p.m. today and escorted to the Veterans Memorial at South Park Cemetery, where there will be a short ceremony before the wreaths are placed. The ceremony is estimated to start around 1:30 p.m., and is open to the public.