A steady, chilling rain didn’t keep a large crowd from turning out for to honor veterans on Dec. 18 at Sequim View Cemetery and other locations.
Wreaths Across America, a nonprofit that started in 1992 to continue and expand the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, saw more than 2.4 million balsam wreaths at 3,136 participating sites across the country and overseas, including — for the second time — in Sequim.
Event organizer Judy Tordini of the Michael Trebert Chapter-Daughters of the American Revolution, said the newly-formed tradition will expand to Port Angeles and Forks in December 2022.
Cmdr. Joan Snaith, USCG Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles, offered her thoughts as the event’s guest speaker.
“We must be inspired by the past. We must be educated by the sacrifice. That education must go beyond the dates, the times, the places, but must reflect on the spirit, the dedication and the purpose to which these veterans served. They took on unimaginable tasks and challenges, to right wrongs, to free the oppressed and to provide safety and security for all … and we must honor that,” Snaith noted in her address.
“We do that by ensuring to continue their legacy to continue rights rituals and traditions, but through serving the public, through serving your community — whether in the military, being a first responder, serving on council or political office, but also by community service.
“By doing this and by serving in the public, we honor their sacrifice. We honor the past and also the future by providing a better future for generations to come. For things that you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, however things that you do for others remain your legacy and that’s why we’re here today.
“This event and events like it nationwide is the best example of that.”
Saturday’s event saw poor weather cancel the scheduled fly-over of a restored 1944 Piper L-4H Aircraft flown by Sequim pilot David Woodcock, a retired captain (U.S. Air Force); however, remaining traditions — presentation of the colors by Dungeness Composite Flight Civil Air Patrol members, flag line by American Legion Riders, the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance, invocation by Kathy Nicholls (the 2020 Washington State Marine of the year), gun salute by Mt. Olympus Detachment Marine Corps League, playing of “Taps” and wreath-laying by representatives of each of the U.S. military branches and community members — carried on through the rain.
“I know many of us here today, myself included, cannot start to imagine what it must be like to serve in the capacity that the brave men and women of our military have,” master of ceremonies Greta Christianson, a Michael Trebert Chapter NSDAR junior member, said Saturday.
“So although we are not on the front lines to protect (us from) enemies foreign and domestic like these veterans were and current soldiers are, we must always keep in mind the quote that 40th president of the United States, Ronald Reagan, said years ago and always stand up for our patriotic beliefs and values. ‘Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it along to our children in our bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same. Or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like to live in the United States where men were free.’
“Today we are now united … as we remember the fallen, honor those that served their families and teach the next generation the value of freedom,” Christianson said.
Next year’s National Wreaths Across America Day will be held on Saturday, Dec. 17.
This was the 30th year that veterans’ wreaths have been placed there, a tradition started by Maine wreath maker Morrill Worcester as a gift of thanks. He once again made the trek to Arlington this year to place wreaths as he has each December since 1992, according to a Wreaths Across America press release.
“When I brought down those 5,000 wreaths that first year, I just thought it was a way for me to say thank you, for what we have in this country,” Worcester said. “I could have never imagined it would strike a chord like it has and make such an impact. Me and my family continued to be humbled by the support this program receives across the country.”