110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
posted Dec 20, 2013 - 10:02:19am
A DeLand organization is bringing a national tradition to town, and hopes the community will make it a local tradition.
It’s called Wreaths Across America, and the DeLand PEO chapter has adopted it as a project. The mission is to honor veterans by placing evergreen wreaths on their graves during the holiday season.
On Dec. 14, wreaths were placed on the graves of 216 veterans who were laid to rest at DeLand Memorial Gardens, and on the graves of 117 veterans at Oakdale Cemetery in DeLand.
There are more than 1,000 veterans’ graves at the two DeLand cemeteries, and hundreds more in cemeteries across West Volusia.
“This was our first year of bringing this national tradition to DeLand honoring our veterans. We hope to make it an annual event and eventually have enough wreaths sponsored to place on every veteran’s grave in DeLand,” coordinator Sande Bautista said.
As part of the project, community members and veterans gathered at noon for a Remembrance Ceremony honoring veterans at DeLand Memorial Gardens, Bautista said.
PEO Chapter DT of DeLand coordinated the ceremony and wreath sponsorships in DeLand. Seven ceremonial wreaths were presented, each representing a branch of service: Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine and POW/MIA. Veterans presenting the ceremonial wreaths were Ross M. Geiger, Mick Cotten, William A. Welsheimer, Peter Bluto, Harry Bradley, Mary Triplett and Miguel Camacho.
Officiating was retired Navy chaplain the Rev. Dr. James G. Patterson Jr., commander of the Chaplain Corps.
Students with the DeLand High School Junior ROTC presented the colors, Jamie Moore and Sameerah Qudorah of DeLand High School sang the national anthem, and Gunner Gilmore of University High School in Orange City sounded taps.
Ralph Locke, state chaplain of the Combat Veterans Association and Central Florida chaplain of the Patriot Guard Riders, offered a prayer before wreaths were laid at Oakdale Cemetery.
Wreaths Across America got its start more than 20 years ago with the laying of wreaths on the headstones of fallen heroes at Arlington National Cemetery. Since then, the holiday-season tradition has expanded to include more than 800 cemeteries.
This year, more than 500,000 wreaths were placed by more than 150,000 volunteers in all 50 states and at 24 national cemeteries on foreign soil.
To find out more about sponsoring a wreath, send email to Bautista at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to the PEO chapter at P.O. Box 220138, Glenwood, FL 32722.
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