The Webster community came together for Wreaths Across America Day

17 Dec

Earlier this year, when it was first suggested that Webster participate in Wreaths Across America, organizers knew it would be asking a lot from the community.

After all, Webster Union Cemetery, chosen for the first-ever ceremony, is one of the larger cemeteries in town. It’s the resting place for about 650 veterans, so decorating each of their graves would require that many wreaths, costing $15 each. Still, organizers knew that Webster is a generous town, and they had high hopes the community would support the effort.

No one, however, expected the overwhelming outpouring of community support they received.

Not only did businesses and local residents sponsor more than 650 wreaths, on Wreath Day — Saturday Dec. 17 — more than 300 adults and children gathered at the official Wreaths Across America ceremony at Webster Union Cemetery to help lay the wreaths. Many first responders, veterans and active service members also participated.

The ceremony was the culmination of months of organizing, fundraising and publicity efforts led by Cherie Wood, Wreaths Across America Location Coordinator for Webster Union Cemetery, and a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Canandaigua Chapter. She was delighted and touched by the incredible community response.

“Our first responders, VFW, American Legion, Blue and Gold Star families, and active duty service members have been amazing,” she said. “There’s no end to who made this a reality.”

“I’m awed how the community of Webster came together and embraced this project. Most of our wreaths were sponsored one at a time. People who simply wanted to honor our fallen heroes. It’s rare that a cemetery is 100% sponsored their first year. Our community hit this one out of the park.”

Wood especially credited L3Harris, Jersey Mike’s Subs and Mission BBQ for their incredible business support.

The ceremony began promptly at noon. Following the Pledge of Allegiance, National Anthem and a moment of prayer, Wood explained how Wreath Day is not just a local occurrence, saying,

Today, December 17, is National Wreaths Across America Day. In over 3,700 cemeteries across the country, and in foreign American battlefields, about 2.7 million people are meeting at noon, just as we are. This year over 3 million wreaths will be placed on veteran graves. 

Because of the generosity of the Webster community … we have a wreath  for every veteran in Webster Union Cemetery. Webster pulled together and embraced this project  in a way that has received national attention. This should give us amazing pride in our community.     

Wood encouraged each participant to say the veteran’s name out loud before placing the wreath, and take a moment to thank him or her for their service.

“It’s a small act that goes a long way toward keeping the memory of our veterans alive,” she explained. “Wreaths Across America has a saying: A person dies twice. Once when they take their last breath, then again when their name is said for the very last time. Many of our veterans no longer have family to remember them. Today, we the Webster community will become their family.”

Following Wood’s remarks, representatives from each of our nation’s armed services placed ceremonial wreaths in memory of those who served, and those who are still listed as Prisoners of War or MIA. Lt. Nguyen of the U.S. Navy, Purple Heart Recipient Chief Max Elia and Gold Star Mother Dorothy Reid also spoke.

Family members of veterans who are resting at Webster Union Cemetery were invited to enter the grounds first to place wreaths on their loved one’s graves, followed a few minutes later by the rest of the volunteers.

Webster Union Cemetery is one of 600 first-time cemeteries to participate in the Wreaths Across America ceremony this year. Based in large part on the tremendous support Wood saw from the Webster community this year, she’s already hoping to expand the effort next year.

“It’ll grow in this area,” she said. “Next year, we hope to add more cemeteries, and keep adding in coming years, until all five cemeteries are covered. That’s about 3,000 fallen veterans.”

Click here to see a whole gallery of photos.

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(posted 12/17/2022)

One Response to “The Webster community came together for Wreaths Across America Day”

  1. marsha senges December 17, 2022 at 6:07 pm #

    What a beautiful and memorable comment on/about the residents of Webster!!

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