‘They’ll never be forgotten;’ How volunteers remember veterans with Wreaths Across America
LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Monday morning dozens of volunteers remembered veterans by placing wreaths on their headstones at Wyuka Cemetery in Lincoln. Wreaths Across America is a three-decades-long tradition, and a little snow wasn’t going to stop the group of Lincoln volunteers from placing 2,000 wreaths throughout the cemetery.
“It’s a beautiful morning the week before Christmas,” organizer Sheila O’Connor said. “I love listening to our volunteers as they come out, and they’re saying, ‘it’s not too bad, the weather is not too bad,’ or my favorite ‘at least the wind is not blowing.’
Originally, the wreaths were supposed to be placed Saturday, but a storm delayed the semi-truck hauling the wreaths. O’Connor said they asked volunteers to return Monday if they were able.
“They say that somebody dies twice - once when they take their last breath and once when their name is said for the last time,” O’Connor said.
At each grave, the volunteer reads the veteran’s name out loud. For Master Sergeant Sharif Delarge, it’s about remembering sacrifices.
“Everyone out here made a sacrifice at some point whether it was three years, four years World War I, World War II,” MSgt. Delarge said. “It’s a chance to remember their sacrifice. One day I won’t be here, and I pray someone will come lay a wreath at my headstone and remember the sacrifice I made as well.”
Wyuka is one of the 3,000 sites that host the Wreaths Across America program. Wreaths are even taken to bodies of water to remember those lost at sea.
The simple act of remembering, by reading a name and placing a wreath, is powerful for MSgt. Delarge and is a tradition he hopes will carry into the future.
“I have kids, I want them to know that people served this country, fight for this country and lay down their lives for this country so it’s important that we remember them,” MSgt. Delarge said. “As long as you say their names they’ll never be forgotten.”
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