Crowd gathers at Maple Grove Cemetery – Lancaster
LANCASTER — The cold and rainy weather Saturday was not enough to keep about 75 people from memorializing veterans at Maple Grove Cemetery.
They were participating in the nationwide Wreaths Across America program, in which community members laid wreaths at veterans’ grave at noon local time.
“I’m a veteran,” Amanda resident and U.S. Navy veteran Gene Hill said. “We’ve got to come out and do things for veterans. It doesn’t make any difference what kind of weather it is or anything like that. We do what we can for the veterans.”
Tina Holliday was next to Hill. Her fiance, James Michael Hill, was a U.S. Air Force veteran of Desert Storm who died of a heart attack two years ago.
“I’m here today to honor him and all my veteran family, here and gone,” she said.
This was the first year the Wreaths Across America was commemorated in Fairfield County, volunteer location coordinator David Nessley said. Since it was the initial time, he said he didn’t know how long it would take to lay more than 800 wreaths on veterans’ graves. That represents only half of the cemetery, and Nessley said hopefully graves on the other side will be honored with wreaths.
“These people (veterans) obviously died for their freedom,” he said. “So we need to remember them.”
Nessley is a Vietnam-era U.S. Army veteran but did not serve there.
The ceremony started with a color guard raising the flag, followed by Gold Star Mother Kate Kimple and Blue Star Mother Rose Ann Elliot laying a ceremonial wreath. That was followed by Air Force veteran Carl Roshong and Army veteran Dick Hoffine addressing the crowd. Hoffine said the fact that people came out on such a miserable day showed their respect for veterans.
“We can thank those veterans for the freedom we have,” he said. “We can go anywhere we want to and do anything we want, generally, as long as it’s within the laws we’ve set up for ourselves. And we can say anything we want to about anything we want to. If we don’t like our government, we can speak about it.”
Nessley said the national program started in 1992 and now has participating communities in all 50 states.
Jeff Barron / Eagle Gazette Staff – December 15, 2013
Pictured Below: Lori Cronin and other volunteers place wreaths on the graves of a veterans Saturday at Maple Grove Cemetery.