Wreaths Across America ceremonies, honoring deceased veterans, start Dec. 14

by Emry Dinman
Staff Writer | December 5, 2019 7:59 AM

EPHRATA — Around 700 deceased veterans interred in Moses Lake, Ephrata, Soap Lake and Quincy cemeteries will be honored with wreaths placed by their gravestones Dec. 14 and 15 by the Columbia Basin Composite Squadron, Civil Air Patrol Ephrata.

It will be just one leg of a nationwide effort through non-profit group Wreaths Across America, which holds an annual ceremony of laying wreaths on the graves of veterans across the U.S. and in locations around the globe. Close to 1,700 locations took place in last year’s event, laying nearly 1.8 million wreaths thanks to the efforts of over a million volunteers, according to a press release.

Last year’s ceremony was the largest showing yet for the local composite squadron, which placed around 1200 wreaths at Quincy, Ephrata, Soap Lake Cemeteries, as well as six other locations across Grant County and Adams County, CAP Commander First Lieutenant Karen Hildebrand wrote in a press release.

This year’s theme, “Everyone Plays A Part,” was a recommendation made by 10-year-old “Mighty” Miles Worcester, the grandson of the founders of Wreaths Across America, Morrill and Karen Worcester, according to the press release.

While in Washington D.C. for an event last May, Worcester noticed a member of the armed forces in uniform at the hotel where he was staying, and approached him to thank him for his service.

“And his response was simple and impactful: ‘Thank you…everyone plays a part,’” according to the press release.

Wreaths Across America began as an expansion of the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery begun by Maine businessman Morrill Worcester, who owns the tree farm that now provides the organization with thousands of wreaths every year. The trees themselves are sponsored by the families of deceased veterans.

“It’s a way of honoring our past veterans,” said Hildebrand. “We say thank you to all of our military and veterans who are still around today, but this is a chance to thank those who have paved the way. And it’s a good way to teach kids about being patriotic.”

This year’s Ephrata Cemetery ceremony will begin with a procession from Camp Boucher, the Columbia Basin Composite Squadron building, located at 50 Airport St. From there, the procession will go down to the Ephrata Cemetery at 9:15 a.m. and will be escorted by the Ephrata City Police, members of Civil Air Patrol and members of the community.

That ceremony has been scheduled to coincide with Ephrata’s annual Miracle on Main Street, a tree lighting ceremony and parade.

The Ephrata Cemetery ceremony will take place Dec. 14 at 10 a.m. The Quincy Cemetery ceremony will take place Dec. 14 at 1 p.m. The Soap Lake Cemetery ceremony will take place Dec. 15 at 11 a.m. In all cases, the community is invited to participate and help place wreaths on the graves of veterans.

No formal ceremony will take place in Moses Lake, due to scheduling conflicts and a limited number of wreaths this year, though some wreaths will be placed as available.

Emry Dinman can be reached via email at edinman@columbiabasinherald.com.