Supporters of Wreaths Across America hope to raise
$3,200 to place wreaths on military graves at Fort Stanton Cemetery.
Dianne L Stallings, Ruidoso News
Last year, wreaths were laid on graves at the cemetery during a downpour.
(Photo: Courtesy Photo/Jill Harper-Duncan)
For those who know Cecile Kinnan, it comes as no surprise that she has taken on another challenge. The inexhaustible community volunteer is trying to raise $3,200 by December 1st to order wreaths to be place on military graves at Fort Stanton Cemetery.
"Picture a loved one or friend in the military shivering alone in the cold. Now picture a dead veteran lying unrecognized in a cold grave at the Fort Stanton Military Cemetery," Holly Braden, a retired professor, Creative Aging Board member and an usher with Kinnan at the Spencer Theater, said. "Although the state is now restoring this military cemetery, many of these veterans are never visited or recognized for their valor, except for a group of dedicated volunteers. Until this year, these graves were decorated with wreaths at Christmas by these volunteers. The funding source for this tribute has ceased to exist, and the state is not allowed to provide money. Funding is desperately needed to purchase wreaths."
Each wreath costs $15, and a total of $3200 must be raised by Friday, December 1st, she said.
This project is part of the "Wreaths Across America" program that was started in 1992 by Morrill Worcester when he placed wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery, Braden said. "He continued to quietly practice the tradition until 2005, when a picture of the wreaths on the graves went public," she said. "The result was volunteers stepping forward to honor veterans at other military cemeteries. This happened in Lincoln County. The ushers from the Spencer Theater for Performing Arts have taken it on as one of their many community projects. Volunteers from as far away as El Paso have joined local people yearly in placing the wreaths on the graves."
Those volunteers feel honored to be able to recognize those who gave so much to the country, she said. Veterans have been interred at the Fort Stanton Cemetery for 117 years.
According to the "Wreaths Across America" website, "In 2008, over 300 locations held wreath-laying ceremonies in every state, Puerto Rico and 24 overseas cemeteries. Over 100,000 wreaths were placed on veterans' graves. Over 60,000 volunteers participated. And that year, Dec. 13, 2008, was unanimously voted by the US Congress as 'Wreaths Across America Day'."
In 2014, "Wreaths Across America" and its national network of volunteers laid more than 700,000 memorial wreaths at 1,000 locations in the United States and beyond, including ceremonies at the Pearl Harbor Memorial, as well as Bunker Hill, Valley Forge and the sites of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Lincoln County is part of this great national project and they need the support of residents and long-time visitors to continue, Kinnan and Braden said. The deadline to submit the order is December 1st.
All checks or money orders are to be made out to the Ruidoso Valley Noon Lions Club Charities, c/o Don Fowler, Treasurer, POB 7366, Ruidoso, NM 88355. The organization is helping out with the project and also will handle cash. Checks and money orders should have a memo that states for Wreaths Across America, and attach a note with any cash donation.
A $15 donations allows a person to adopt one veteran's grave. Any amount would be appreciated and used solely for the purchase of the wreaths. The hope of the wreath project supporters is that individuals, businesses, civic organizations, and veterans' groups will step forward to support the purchase of the wreaths.
"What a beautiful way to teach children the meaning of giving during the season of giving," Braden said.
The ceremony is set for 10 am, Thursday, December 16th, at the cemetery. Everyone is welcome to participate either through donating money or in the laying of the wreaths, or both.