FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, WA, UNITED STATES
Photo by Airman Stassney Davis
Times Union, Albany, N.Y.
Sep. 11—A committee of five war veterans has launched a new Wreaths Across America drive to commemorate veterans buried in three Rensselaer County cemeteries.
Retired Army Col. John Brownrigg, a Vietnam War veteran, committee chairman, and his helpers Paul Glasser Sr., Navy Seabee veterans of the Vietnam War, Bill Glasser, an Army veteran of the Korean War, Paul Glasser Jr., a Marine veteran of the Persian Gulf War, and Dave Barnum, an Army veteran of the Vietnam War, are promoting the sponsorship of wreaths through the national Wreaths Across America organization at $17 each.
” The Veterans of Sand Lake and its Averill Park Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts have been sanctioned to put Wreaths Across America wreaths on veterans’ graves,” said Brownrigg. “Our objective is to place a wreath on each of the veterans’ graves in Elmwood Cemetery in West Sand Lake, St. Henry’s Cemetery in Averill Park and the Sand Lake Union Cemetery. The decorative wreaths will be placed on those graves of veterans who fought in the Revolutionary War through the present.
“The goal of Veterans of Sand Lake also is to support efforts that help unify our community and celebrate our freedom by thanking the 675 veterans that rest in these cemeteries with the placement of live, balsam, veteran’s wreath,” he added.
The wreaths will be placed on the graves on National Wreaths Across America Day Dec. 16 to remember the fallen, honor those who served and teach the next generation the value of freedom, Brownrigg added.
The daughter of Army Cpl. Arthur A. Crowe, a Korean War veteran, shared her reaction when she discovered a wreath on her dad’s grave at the Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery. That prompted her to become a Wreaths Across America supporter and volunteer.
“Mom and dad had died 20 days apart in 2014,” said Nancy O’Donnell of Schaghticoke, a florist. “It was their first Christmas in heaven. I went to put the wreath I made for them on their grave and saw a wreath already there. I read the tag it said, ‘Today I placed a wreath on the grave of an American Hero’…then it gave information about the Wreaths Across America program. I looked around and there were only a few of these wreaths that I could see. I remember telling myself this is an absolute God Wink! You love making wreaths so call and get involved. I did just that, spoke with Scott (Lamb, cemetery director), got my name on the contact list for the following year’s planning committee, been doing it ever since! Best contact I ever made!”
She later found out the cemetery had about 425 wreaths that year for more than 9,000 graves. “My dad was honored with one,” she said. “How does someone not see that as a God thing!”
Veterans of Sand Lake will receive $5 from the sponsorship of each wreath, according to Brownrigg. That money will benefit veterans programs, homeless veterans, the Fischer House in Albany, employment transition programs and Averill Park High School scholarships.
Wreaths Across America is a nonprofit founded to expand the annual wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery begun by Maine businessman Morrill Worchester in 1992, said Sean Sullivan, WAA spokesman. The effort has expanded to more than 3,700 locations in 50 states.
A Wreaths Across America Mobile Education Exhibit will stop at several locations. Veterans, active military personnel and their families as well as others are welcome to visit the interactive exhibits, see short films and shared stories of heroes and the meaningful placement of wreaths. The mobile exhibit also serves as a welcome home station. Visitors also can speak with WAA representatives.
The mobile exhibit will be open to students from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19 at New Lebanon Central High School and open to the public from 3:30 to 7 p.m.
The exhibit will include a Welcome Home Ceremony for Vietnam Era veterans from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21at the Stephentown Veterans Memorial Park, Route 43. The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. State Sen. Jacob Ashby, an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran, and Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin are expected to participate. Lapel pins, medallions and certificates will be given to Vietnam Era veterans. For information regarding the Wreaths Across America Mobile Exhibit and Welcome Home Ceremony, contact Dennis Burek, (732) 501-6435.
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