As the Christmas season rapidly approaches, the graves of fallen soldiers across the country will be decorated in honor of their sacrifice.
On Dec.15, the Civil Air Patrol's Jamestown Composite Squadron will host a wreath-laying ceremony in Jamestown's Lakeview Cemetery at Soldier's Circle. According to 1st Lt. Todd Hanson, this ceremony is only one facet of a nationwide operation.
"This is a nationwide event that is about honoring veterans and educating people about what soldiers do and have done for our country," said Hanson, who is coordinating the Jamestown ceremony. "There will be 750 different locations across the country doing the same ceremony at the same time on the same day."
According to Hanson, the Civil Air Patrol's Jamestown Composite Squadron was the first location in New York state to volunteer to host the ceremony, which is sponsored annually by the Wreaths Across America organization. Wreaths Across America was founded in 1992 by Maine businessman Morrill Worchester in remembrance of veterans, with the first wreath-laying ceremony taking place at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. The goal of the organization is to eventually have enough sponsors to lay a wreath at every gravesite in Arlington.
People wishing to sponsor a wreath can do so online by visiting wreathsacrossameri ca.org, where there is an option to sponsor single or multiple wreaths for a selected location. There is no option to sponsor a wreath for a specific individual. Sponsored wreaths will be shipped to the Civil Air Patrol's Jamestown Composite Squadron, who will then bring them to the cemetery. The deadline for wreath sponsorship is Nov. 25.
"We receive a certain number of wreaths from the organization for every branch of the military," said Hanson. "All other wreaths are donated by individuals in remembrance of veterans, and obviously the more wreaths we get, the more graves we can cover."
At the ceremony, the wreath laying will be performed by the Civil Air Patrol and any veterans in attendance who wish to participate. The CAP will also present colors along with the Chautauqua County Veterans color guard.
The ceremony is open to the community and will take place at noon sharp, rain or shine.