Wreaths Across America honors veterans

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By Christine Bryant
Staff Writer

Members of the Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol will visit four Reynoldsburg cemeteries Dec. 16 to place wreaths at veterans’ graves as part of the Wreaths Across America initiative.

Volunteers will lay thousands of wreaths at the graves of veterans across the nation to pay tribute for their sacrifices.

Wreaths Across America, a non-profit organization founded in 2007, will hold ceremonies at more than 1,200 locations in the United States and abroad Dec. 16, including Reynoldsburg.

Members of the Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol will visit Silent Home Cemetery, Friendship Primitive Baptist, Hill Road Methodist and Seceder Cemetery, said 1st Lt. Elizabeth Saunders, administration, public affairs and activities officer with the squadron.

The day will begin at noon at Silent Home, with seven ceremonial wreaths placed near the entrance to each cemetery. Each wreath represents the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines and POW/MIAs, Saunders said.

At the conclusion of each ceremony, attendees place wreaths on each of the veterans’ graves until no more wreaths are available, said Capt. Allen Verplatse, who serves as the squadron commander.

“As the cadet places a wreath, they come to attention, salute and read the name of the veteran,” he said.
The ceremony teaches the value of freedom to the next generation, Verplatse said.

“As our cadets read the names and dates of the gravestones, they might note that some of these veterans were not much older than they are today,” he said. “We hope that they reflect on the fact that they wear the uniform of this great nation just like the veterans they are honoring.”

Located off State Route 256 near the intersection with Farmsbury Drive, Seceder Cemetery houses approximately 15 veterans from the U.S. Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and U.S. Civil War, Saunders said. A plaque placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution honors four soldiers and one sailor buried at the cemetery.

“There is also a member of the U.S. Colored Infantry, George Stebout, who fought in the Civil War, buried alongside the other veterans,” she said. “The symbolism there is astounding.”

At Friendship Primitive Baptist Cemetery, located off South Street between Lancaster Avenue and Jackson Street, 10 veterans from the U.S. Civil War are buried.

“At Hill Road Methodist Cemetery, although there are many veterans graves we still need to research, there are approximately 25 veterans with gravestones we can account for,” Saunders said.
The cemetery, located off Waggoner Road near East Main Street, is home to several Ohio Volunteer Infantry soldiers, she said.

“The OVI were volunteer civilians, usually from a specific town or area with no formal military training who replaced the declining military soldiers during the U.S.-Mexican War, Civil War and Spanish-American War,” Saunders said.

Silent Home Cemetery, located off Lancaster Avenue south of downtown Reynoldsburg, houses more than 210 veterans spanning from the Civil War to all modern conflicts, she said.

“The earliest burial recorded is 1815,” she said. “There is also a mausoleum in service since 1917.”

The public is invited to attend any of the ceremonies held during the afternoon of Dec. 16.

“We are grateful to the Reynoldsburg Police Department for providing escort for our squadron as we travel from one location to the next,” Verplatse said. “If you are out and about on the 16th and see us, remember why we are out there regardless of the elements. Our freedom is not free, and we wish to give back in some small way to those who gave us what we have today and demonstrate that we value what they provided.”

For more information, contact Saunders at elizabeth.saunders@ohwg.cap.gov.

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