Islanders invited to Wreaths Across America ceremony

A special Wreaths Across America ceremony to honor veterans nationwide takes place at 10:30 am Friday, at the directory at the Avenue of Flags in the Oak Grove Cemetery in Vineyard Haven.

Following brief remarks by Dukes County Director of Veterans Services Jo Ann Murphy, Island veterans will place holiday wreaths at the directory representing the branches of military service, as well as prisoners of war and those missing in action, in honor of the men and women who gave their lives in service to their country.

Veterans who will participate include American Legion Commander Vernon Oliver; Senior Master Sergeant David Kann, U.S. Air Force (USAF); Corporal Woody Williams, U.S. Marine Corps; Lieutenant Colonel (Lt. Col.) Bill Carroll, USAF; Major Stan Mercer, USAF, and Captain Richard Reinhardsen, Merchant Marines. Lt. Col. David Berube, USAF, who currently serves in the National Guard, will also take part.

Similar ceremonies will take place in more than 500 locations in the U.S. and around the world on Saturday. Ms. Murphy moved the Island’s ceremony up by one day to make it more convenient for Tisbury School students to attend and participate.

The Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine, is donating the specially made wreaths. For 21 years the company has provided more than 5,000 holiday wreaths to place on every headstone at Arlington National Cemetery.

Wreaths Across America (WAA) was formed as a nonprofit organization to extend the Arlington ceremony to national and state veterans’ cemeteries, monuments, and community centers across the U.S.

The WAA mission is to “remember the fallen, honor those who serve, and teach our children the value of freedom.”

Ms. Murphy arranged for the Vineyard’s participation in the wreath program starting in 2006. In addition to ceremonial wreaths, civic groups nationwide make donations to sponsor wreaths to place on veterans’ graves in designated sections of participating cemeteries.

For more information, call Ms. Murphy at 508-693-6887 or visit the website WreathsAcrossAmerica.org.