Tuesday, December 20, 2016

National Wreaths Across America Held Locally at Evergreen Cemetery


Evergreen Cemetery
National Wreaths Across America Day was held December 17 at Evergreen Cemetery. The mission, according to their website, is to “Remember, Honor and Teach.” It is a coordinated series of ceremonies carried out at Arlington National Cemetery and over 1,100 other locations in all 50 US states, at sea, and abroad.

Linda Nesbitt, the Campbell County Democratic Chair and one of the lead organizers for the local event said, “The Campbell County event was part of the nationwide effort sponsored by the Wreaths Across America organization. The Democratic Executive Committee became a local sponsoring organization for the first time in 2016. Paul Whalen of Fort Thomas, a former county party chair, organized the event and led a fundraising effort to supplement the Executive Committee's monetary commitment. The additional monies allowed us to purchase more wreaths for both the Soldiers Lot and the Civil War battery grave sites fronting Alexandria Pike.”

Paul Whalen said that  the event  “originally began when one guy from Maine decided to donate 5,000 wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery." It has caught on with other communities with groups of Veterans.


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This is a community project ranging from participation, fund raising, to event planning. Some of the major donors were members “of the Campbell County Democratic Party.  Other donors… included John R. Little VFW Auxiliary, in Southgate, NKY Labor Council, and the Southgate Optimist club. … We hope to raise funds for all the graves in the Soldiers' Lot and the Civil War Battery in Evergreen Cemetery in 2017” said Whalen.

Karen Worcester, Executive Director of Wreaths Across America wrote on their website that “We are not here to ‘decorate graves.’ We're here to remember not their deaths, but their lives.”  And that sets the tone for the ceremony. Nesbitt described the event. “The Simon-Kenton Sons of American Revolution were the Honor Guard and the Northern Kentucky Young Marines participated. State Representative Dennis Keene and Reverend Dan Drewery conducted a brief ceremony at the Soldiers Lot following wreath placement by the Young Marines and other volunteers.”

About 75 volunteers placed 138 graves on the Soldiers Lot at Evergreen Cemetery and an additional 28 wreaths on the Civil War Battery near the entrance of the cemetery.the Little VFW in Southgate hosted a coffee and donuts send-off prior to the event.  Nesbitt observed that “This was a true community project.”
William Horsfall, from Newport, was the youngest person to ever receive the Medal of Honor.
But what sets this event apart from others is that the dead’s name is said as the wreath is placed. That vocal recognition acknowledges a soldier’s service and a life of value. In this small way, that soldier lives on. Eric Simmons, one of the volunteers, said that “My uncle, Glenn Cox, was in the Army Air Corps. He was killed in World War II and is buried there…. I got out so much more than I put in. Aside from the family connection, it was a meaningful experience at the holidays to remember what they fought and died for. The county Democratic party was very proud to have organized it. In this charged political climate, it's a good reminder that patriotism doesn't know a political party.” He said that he felt gratitude as as he lay the wreath upon the stone.

Nesbitt said that “Next year, we hope to raise enough money to purchase wreaths for every gravesite in both the Soldiers Lot and the Civil War battery, and to include more individual and organizational involvement.” 

Novelist Melody Beattie wrote "Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." And all of that is experienced by placing a wreath on a grave.

Executive Committee L to R: Kathy Pinelo, Paul Whalen, Chris Greenwood,
Linda Nesbitt, Monica Remmy, Eric Simmons, Ben Baker. 

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