Wreaths Across America honors local veterans

Dec. 16, 2012 @ 05:01 AM

Several dozen children, veterans and community members gathered Saturday morning at the North Carolina Veterans Memorial Pavilion in Broadway to pay their respects to those who have served in the Armed Forces, both living and dead.

The ceremony for Wreaths Across America Day was led by members of the local American Heritage Girl Troop 1715, which has played an active role in several other ceremonies honoring the military lately and which has conducted the local event for all four years the troop has existed, said organizer Carmen Ledford.

Wreaths Across America began more than 20 years ago after a Maine-based wreath company started laying wreaths on gravestones in Arlington National Cemetery. This year, Broadway was one of nearly 800 participating locations honoring wreaths representing several groups of the military — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine and POW/MIA.

As girls from the troop came to take a wreath to the memorial wall, a presenter read off the names of fathers, grandfathers and other family members that girl had asked to dedicate the presentation to, which Ledford said was an addition to the ceremony she found touching.

“This is something that goes on all over the country, but here we add a local element by letting the girls honor people close to them in addition to the larger group,” she said.

Hannah Durrell and several other members of the troop read speeches, using their own words as well as quotes from leaders like Ronald Reagan, with Durrell leading the ceremony. She thanked the veterans and active duty service members in attendance and implored the crowd to remember their sacrifices to protect the U.S. from all those who would threaten American freedom.

“Our nation stands as a shining beacon,” she said. “... We shall not forget you — We will remember.”

Helped by Army 1st Lt. Patrick Mohan, of Lee County, girls from the troop followed up Durrell’s words by placing the wreaths at the memorial and giving out grommets from U.S. flags, which the troop retired this summer, to all the veterans in attendance.