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A-J Remembers: Wreaths planned as honor to veterans

Lubbock Avalanche-Journal - 12/10/2017

Dec. 10--Some Lubbock organizations have become close Christmas-season allies to honor military veterans who once lived in this area.

They are preparing a day of honor with patriotic ceremonies at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Saturday in the city of Lubbock Cemetery, one of the largest cemeteries in Texas.

In a massive wreath-laying project, they plan to place 700 wreaths on veterans' gravesites in two hours, in addition to the performance of a color guard, the singing of the National Anthem, patriotic songs and an address by Air Force Maj. Jim Preidis.

They welcome volunteers to come at 9 a.m. to start laying the wreaths, and the11 a.m. event will become most of the formal ceremony. The wreaths are a part of the Wreaths Across America program.

Civil Air Patrol Capt. Tammy Preidis said seven special wreaths will be set in place to honor each of the military services, plus MIAs and POWs.

"Those people, during the 11 o'clock service, will honor each of the services, salute and do the whole ceremony. They will walk up with the wreath, lay the wreath down, have a moment of silence, then a salute to the veterans."

Throughout the Lubbock event, there will be an emphasis on the men of World War I, who fought for the perpetuation of freedom a century ago.

Carolyn Sowell, who represents the Nancy Anderson Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Lubbock County Historical Commission, said World War I had been raging in Europe for more than two years when the United States entered it on April 6, 1917.

"The length of time for our participation was 19 months. The war ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918," she said.

"I hate to think of what it might have been if we hadn't participated."

She comes from a patriotic family that served the nation in its military:

"I had Revolutionary War ancestors, those from the War of 1812 and World War I, and my Dad was in World War II."

She notes that World War I wasn't taught much in school, and that it has become a largely forgotten war.

Tammy Preidis, who is part of a fourth-generation military family, has a kind of missionary zeal for the Wreaths Across America project, which also serves as a means of keeping the Civil Air Squadron going.

"Sometimes I forget to tell people that it's a fundraiser, because that's not the reason I do it. I do it because my grandfather was on the Oklahoma in Pearl Harbor. He was one of the 34 survivors. After that, my dad was in the military, I was in the military, and my oldest son just joined the military."

She has lined up a brass ensemble to play patriotic music under the direction of Don Summersgill, band director for the Shallowater Independent School District.

"The Shallowater brass band is coming out, and last year it was tremendous. I get goose bumps every time I think about it. They had the kids lined up, and they played a patriotic song. But at the very end they did 'Taps,' and they positioned the buglers in four different locations. They did 'Taps' -- goose bumps just thinking about it -- it was just beautiful."

Carolyn Sowell, who presented a program for the Nancy Anderson Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, said that of the almost 30,000 individuals buried in the city of Lubbock cemetery, 361 are known veterans of World War I.

"Undoubtedly, there are many more. The Lubbock County Historical Commission has made its project for this year to locate those World War I veterans whose final resting place is in Lubbock County."

She is a member of the commission, and volunteered to conduct research involving the veterans. Seven of the Lubbock County men were killed in action during the war.

"During the Great War the United States mobilized over four million military personnel, and of that number almost 200,000 were from Texas."

She said, "It is interesting to note that there were 450 Texas women who served as nurses in World War I, some of whom were members of the DAR."

According to her research, 2,314 men from Lubbock County registered for the draft at a time when the city of Lubbock had a population of only 5,000.

"Tragically, more than 5,000 Texans died in service."

The DAR chapter has provided almost $1,800 for the Wreaths Across America project in Lubbock. Other donors were the Disabled Veterans, Daughters of the American Colonies, Colonial Dames, Viper Products, Book Club Divas and Scott Dentistry. KK's Craft corner and Texas Road House allowed booths to be set up on Thursday evenings.

Sowell researched even the kinds of jobs that the veterans of world War I were assigned in the Army:

* Malcolm G. Wilson was a sergeant in the Mobile Vet Section

* Thomas Irby Bedford was a horseshoer with the 10th Vet Hospital.

* James B. Jones was a wagoner in the 55th American Transportation Coast Artillery Corps.

* John Lee Hansen was a cook.

* Oscar Z. Beck, a private in the 4th Bakery Co. of the Quartermaster Corps.

* Ernest R. Mankins was a cook at Camp Hospital No. 33.

* Ia D. McClish was a private in the 129th Ambulance Company.

* Clarence Meek Cover was a private in the Medical Department.

* Thomas J. Hill was a private in the 5th Development Battalion.

* John M. Zinn was a private in the 79th Balloon Company in the Air Service Corps.

* Roy John Watson was a bugler in the 165th Depot Brigade.

"In my research, I learned about an interesting program which one of the mothers from Lubbock may have participated in. She was Cornelia Elizabeth Moore, whose address was given as 1413 Ave. G. Her son, John P. Moore, died Oct. 8, 1918, in France, and is buried at the American Cemetery in Lorraine."

Preidis takes to heart the wreath-laying event each year:

"When I personally lay a wreath, I go up, lay the wreath, take two steps back, and do the salute. Then, I think about that person throughout the year. I think about what they did for our freedom -- that is a young man who went to war, left his family, and may not have been there for Christmas. Maybe he had children, but he was fighting for our country and our freedom."

And she thinks of her grandfather and the Oklahoma:

"I just can't imagine a young man, 19 or 20 years old, doing his regular duty, not expecting anything, and all of a sudden his ship was attacked.

"In my opinion, the nation owes them everything."


(c)2017 the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (Lubbock, Texas)

Visit the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (Lubbock, Texas) at www.lubbockonline.com

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