31 December 2008

Wreaths Across America

Arlington National Cemetery - photo by James Varhegyi

A few weeks ago, I wrote a little piece on a wonderful organization called "Wreaths Across America". I belong to El Toyon Chapter National Society Daughters of the American Revolution and on December 13th we participated in the wreath laying ceremonies at San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery in Gustine, California. Yesterday, the lady who took photos, gifted me with some to remember the occasion. The article appeared on my other blog - The Educated Graveyard Rabbit, but it was such a great experience I want to share it with you here on this blog.

San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery, Gustine, California

The Civil Air Patrol Honor Guard at Sharpe Depot conducted the services.

Yes, that's me on the right.

My stepfather - Lyle Dean Hartley

Past Regent for El Toyon Chapter NSDAR

Husband of El Toyon NSDAR chapter member

REMEMBER the fallen
HONOR those who serve
TEACH our children the value of Freedom

This is the motto of Wreaths Across America, a nationwide project, started by one man who simply wanted to show his remembrance for fallen soldiers.
The Wreaths Across America story began over 15 years ago when Worcester Wreath Company (a for-profit commercial business from Harrington, Maine) began a tradition of placing wreaths on the headstones of our Nation's fallen heroes at Arlington National Cemetery during the holidays.
Humbled with a new understanding about the impact the Arlington Wreath Project has made, not only in honoring the dead, but recognizing the sacrifices of the living, Morrill Worcester - President of Worcester Wreath Company committed himself to doing more, by reaching out across the country.
On Saturday, December 13th, along with members of El Toyon Chapter NSDAR, I went to the San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery in Gustine, California to attend the wreath laying ceremony. It was a very moving experience. We laid wreaths on the graves of my step-father Lyle Dean Hartley, a past regent of El Toyon Chapter NSDAR Esther Bonta and the husband of a chapter member Milton Farley.

A little about San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery - In 1989, the Romero Ranch Company donated land to the Department of Veterans Affairs for the creation of a National Cemetery. The first phase developed 105 acres of the land, and was completed in May 1992, giving enough space for the interment of over 20,000 remains.There is a small military museum on site, which has exhibits of uniforms, medals, and other memorabilia.

The California Korean War Veterans Memorial, erected in 1998. It consists of 16 five foot tall granite monoliths arranged in a circle. Engraved on each monolith is the name of the 2,495 veterans from California who died during the Korean War.

The 11th Airborne Memorial is a granite and bronze monument that was dedicated on May 11, 2002, in honor of all airborne soldiers. The sculptor was William Porteus, a member of the 511th unit.

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