Wreaths Across America pays tribute to armed forces

Brave men and women and their families are honored for their sacrifices.

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Islanders gathered at Oak Grove Cemetery on a crisp and sunny Friday morning to commemorate those service members who have been lost in the fight for the freedoms we enjoy every day.

The ceremony, called Wreaths Across America, also recognizes active-duty service members and veterans of past wars who sacrificed much for our country.

At around 10 am, veterans, members of the American Legion Post 257, community members, and young students from the Tisbury School gathered to pay tribute.

Pastor Bob Barnett spoke on behalf of all veterans of Martha’s Vineyard, thanking the community for their participation in the ceremony. He started off with the Pledge of Allegiance and followed up with a short prayer.

“Today we pay tribute to the brave men and women who fought for our country’s freedom. Think of their sacrifice and the sacrifice of their families,” Barnett said.

He said that the group was gathered just as thousands of others were, at cemeteries and memorials across the nation.

“We are a nation with one flag. The freedoms we enjoy today have not come without a price,” Barnett said. “Today is a day to give thanks to those who have allowed us to live freely. We will never forget.”

Barnett asked folks to keep an eye out for veterans, and if they see someone who served or is currently serving to protect our country, maybe walk up to them and shake their hand.

“If you see an active service member or veteran, take a moment to thank them for all they do,” Barnett said.

Veterans and active service members then laid an individual wreath in front of each flag representing a different branch of the armed forces next to the Avenue of Flags.

“These wreaths are our commitment to remembering our fallen and honor those who are still serving,” Barnett said.

Toward the end of the ceremony, Barnett spoke a word of wisdom to the schoolchildren who were standing quietly and respectfully in attendance.

“To our children: Our freedoms today come with a cost,” Barnett said. He said that one day, some of the kids at the ceremony might choose to fight for those same freedoms.

To end the ceremony, Tisbury Fire Chief John Schilling played “Taps.”

The fifth graders in attendance at the ceremony said acknowledging the sacrifices made by those in the line of duty is essential.

Asked if the students had family members in the armed forces, many of them thrust their hands high in the air.

Silas Meader, a Tisbury School fifth grader, said, “It’s important for veterans to be recognized. They did a lot for our country, so we want to thank them.”

Another fifth grader, Aeneas Forrester, said he wants to thank veterans for their courage. “Thank you for all you did for us,” Aeneas said.