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Veterans honored with wreath ceremony in Schuylkill Haven
Republican & Herald - 12/15/2017
Dec. 15--SCHUYLKILL HAVEN -- Remember, honor and teach was the message to those attending the Wreaths Across America event Thursday morning at St. Ambrose Roman Catholic Church.
Wreaths Across America, a nationwide program aimed at recognizing veterans during the holidays for their sacrifice, was present in the borough thanks to the Schuylkill Haven American Legion Auxiliary Robert E. Baker Post 38. This was the fifth year the event was hosted by the auxiliary, but the first one to be conducted inside. The decision was made Wednesday night to move the ceremony indoors due to the weather forecast Wednesday night. In years past it had been held at the memorial near Penn State Schuylkill. Inside or out, it didn't matter as the purpose was to pay tribute to those who served.
"Remember, honor and teach is the mission of Wreaths Across America and it reminds us of our responsibilities. If we are diligent and tend to our duty, we help ensure that all those who served our country during more than two centuries did not sacrifice in vain," American Legion Auxiliary President Cosette Pohronezny said.
During the ceremony, all five branches of the armed forces were honored with a wreath along with the Merchant Marine and the POW/MIA soldiers. Each branch's fight song was sung by a choir as the wreaths were brought down the aisle and placed on an easel in front of each individual flag. Concluding the ceremony was a rendition of "God Bless America."
According to American Legion Vice President Kristina Miller, the Wreaths Across America program began more than 17 years ago by Morrill and Karen Worcester of the Worcester Wreath Co., Maine. The couple started a tradition of placing wreaths on the headstones at Arlington National Cemetery. Last year, the Worcesters completed the task of laying a wreath on every grave at Arlington, meaning 230,000 wreaths were laid. As of last week, efforts were being conducted to repeat that result.
Now the Worcesters' act has spread as Thursday's event is just one of 1,100 occurring at memorial sites across the country this week. After stopping in Schuylkill Haven, the convoy of trucks carrying the wreaths was headed for Delaware and Maryland before concluding at Arlington National Cemetery for National Wreaths Across America Day on Saturday.
"Our nation stands as a shining beacon of liberty and freedom to the world. We thank those who gave their lives to keep us free and we shall not forget you. We shall remember," Miller said.
Miller and Pohronezny were in agreement that while planning and coordinating this event is hard work and leads to stress and drama, they were honored and proud to conduct such a worthwhile event since it would help "teach our future generation what being a vet's all about," Miller said.
Guy Wiederhold, an Army veteran and commander of the Schuylkill Haven American Legion Post 38 and Veterans of the Vietnam War Post 29, was pleased to see the number of veterans among the crowd at the ceremony.
"Schuylkill County is a veteran's county," Wiederhold said.
What really touched him was seeing all the students in the crowd as well, as students from Schuylkill Haven, Nativity, St. Ambrose and Mahanoy Area were in attendance, which theoretically would help with the last part of the day's message: teach.
"It showed the young people really cared too," Wiederhold said.
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