wreaths across America

A national effort to teach patriotism by remembering U.S. veterans is coming to Franklin County.

On Dec. 18, volunteers will place memorial wreaths on the tombstones of the 211 veterans buried at Crestview Memorial Park Cemetery in St. Clair as part of the Wreaths Across America program.

Each December, as memorial wreaths are placed on the tombstones of every veteran buried at Arlington National Cemetery, cemeteries across the U.S. also honor deceased veterans with a memorial wreath. This is the first time the event will be held here.

The mission of placing wreaths at veterans’ graves at Arlington during the holiday season started in 1992, when the owner of Maine-based Worcester Wreath Co., Morrill Worcester, donated 5,000 surplus wreaths.

It wasn’t until 2005 when an iconic photo of the wreaths in the snow at Arlington captured widespread attention and led, two years later, to the formal creation of a nonprofit to manage the rapidly expanding program. In 2008, Congress designated an annual Wreaths Across America Day.

The local event is being organized by the Daughters of the American Revolution Valley of the Meramec chapter. Debbie Moon Hinz, a member of the group and the wife of the late Chuck Hinz, a Vietnam-era Navy veteran who is buried at Crestview, said she is eager to honor him and other veterans on that day.

Wreaths Across America does great work. It brings the community together by fostering patriotism while remembering the service and sacrifice of our nation’s heroes.

There is beauty and simplicity in the gesture of placing a wreath at a gravesite to honor our nation’s fallen veterans. It is a wonderful tribute to those who served our country.

You can support this worthy cause by purchasing a wreath through the website wreathsacrossamerica.org/mo0153 and by attending the event at the cemetery, which will begin at 11 a.m. with the ceremonial procession of the wreaths to coincide with the laying of the wreaths at Arlington.

The Patriot Riders and the junior ROTC of St. Clair High School will be in attendance, along with a group to play taps. There will be brief speeches about each of the branches of the U.S. military and about the mission of Wreaths Across America — to remember, honor and teach.