Christmas may seem months away, but Michael Frybarger of West Unity is already preparing for an annual event near and dear to his heart-Wreaths Across America. This event honors and remembers our veterans through a special December ceremony and laying of wreaths on veterans’ gravesites. Due to efforts on his part, Floral Grove Cemetery in West Unity has been added to the official list of cemeteries open for wreath sponsorships on the Wreaths Across America list.
Wreaths Across America began as a small act of gratitude. In 1992, Morrill Worcester of Worcester Wreath Company in Maine had a surplus of 5000 wreaths at Christmastime. Impacted by a childhood visit to the Arlington National Cemetery, he wanted to honor the nation’s fallen heroes with the wreaths. With the assistance of a state senator, his idea was approved to place the wreaths on the graves in an older part of the cemetery. Since then with the help of volunteers, the project has grown into a national effort to honor our nation’s heroes laid to rest at ceremonies throughout the country.
Frybarger who has been involved with the project since 2007 after meeting Worcester has volunteered in past years to deliver wreaths to Arlington Cemetery. This year, he plans to be at the Floral Grove Cemetery in West Unity for the wreath laying ceremony on December 14. Altogether, there are 347 veteran graves in this cemetery. He acknowledges that this is no small undertaking and is reaching out to the community for support. Small wreaths cost $15 and this is considered a tax deductible gift as Wreaths Across America is a 501C3 charity.
Businesses, civic groups, and individuals are encouraged to sponsor wreaths. Frybarger will be set up at the Bryan Wal-Mart Saturday, September 30 and Saturday, October 26 from 10-2 to accept donations. He is also looking for participation in the ceremony on December 14. He is seeking someone from each branch of the military to participate in the ceremony. There will be a ceremonial wreath dedicated to each branch of service. The community is invited to attend the ceremony to be held on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 10:30 in the morning. Floral Grove Cemetery is located at 21184 County Road K outside West Unity. Volunteers will be needed to help place the wreaths that morning.
Frybarger shares that Wreaths Across America is “pretty dear to my heart.” The first time he met Worcester, he shared his vision with him-“it would be great if some day all the veterans got a wreath.” He hopes to build interest and inspire others to carry this mission into their own communities to honor veterans in other cemeteries. For more information about sponsoring a wreath at Floral Grove Cemetery or to inquire about adding a new cemetery, Frybarger can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A detailed website can be accessed at http://give.wreathsacrossamerica.org/site/TR?fr_id=1290&pg=entry#.UjERYcZOOSo.
Together, we can honor and remember those who sacrificed for our beloved nation. In the words of former President Coolidge, “The nation which forgets its defenders will be itself forgotten”. Wreaths Across America wants us all to remember the heroes who have served with the simple act of placing a wreath. Frybarger is hopeful all 347 veterans’ graves will be sponsored with the community’s support.
Tammy Allison may be reached at email@example.com