Wreaths Honor Fallen Vets

Tracey and John Henson were among the 50 volunteers placing wreaths on veterans' graves during Monee's Wreaths Across American ceremony. John Henson is a Navy veteran, serving from 1989-92. Tracey's father was a Vietnam-era Marine, as well as a 30 year-plus police officer. Her brother is a retired Marine also. (Photo by Karen Haave)
Tracey and John Henson were among the 50 volunteers placing wreaths on veterans' graves during Monee's Wreaths Across American ceremony. John Henson is a Navy veteran, serving from 1989-92. Tracey's father was a Vietnam-era Marine, as well as a 30 year-plus police officer. Her brother is a retired Marine also. (Photo by Karen Haave)

By Karen Haave

Participants from as far away as Wisconsin and Missouri placed memorial wreaths on veterans’ graves at Monee’s St. Paul Cemetery on December 17, National Wreaths Across America Day, joining the mission to honor the nation’s military heroes.

One hundred wreaths were placed on veterans’ headstones at the cemetery, many purchased by volunteers who have no one buried there. Each veteran’s grave also was marked with an American flag.

Christi Holston, president of the Monee Historical Society, welcomed the crowd, but kept her comments brief because of the bitter cold.

“Thank you for joining us here today,” she said.

Dozens of volunteers also were gathered at the same time at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, where 28,000 wreaths were placed on veterans’ graves.

“This year, across the country at more than 2,700 participating locations like this one, there are millions of Americans gathering as one nation to Remember, Honor and Teach,” Holston said, quoting the WAA motto.

“Today, we reflect on our nation’s veterans and active-duty service members who fight to protect the liberty that we all too often take for granted.”

She asked all of the veterans present to step forward to be recognized.

“We honor you and your families for the sacrifices you have made to keep our country safe,” she said.

Holston later noted that one family participating came from Wisconsin and another family from Missouri.

“They both said that they wanted their kids to participate in a wreath-laying ceremony, and the ones near them were so packed that they didn’t get a chance to help,” she said.

“They were very happy to have been able to share the importance of the day with their children and teach them about selfless sacrifice and duty to your fellow man.

“We were honored that they were there.”

During the ceremony, two Monee veterans who passed away this year and are now buried at St Paul’s also were recognized,

“Lloyd Buchmeier who grew up in Monee and served in the army during the Korean conflict and Frank Bishop, who was a veteran of WWII and served in the European Theater were honored,” Holston said.

“Frankie landed in France on D-Day. He was a dear friend, and the Monee Historical Society was fortunate to have recorded some of his reminiscences. We hope to talk with more of our honored veterans and record their stories in the coming year.

“All of us involved with the WAA program at St Paul’s are honored to be able to show our respects to those who have served their country. It is our mission to never forget the names and stories of these local heroes.

“The Wreaths Across America in Monee is sponsored by St Paul’s Cemetery, Sauk Trail chapter of the DAR and supported by the Monee Historical Society, Monee Legion Post #1200 and the Monee Women’s Auxiliary Post 1200. We thank all of these organizations for banding together to make the event possible.”

The 100th Illinois Infantry Reenactors were the Honor Guard, under Captain Tim Marcus, Company K, gave the rifle salute.

Crete-Monee High School ROTC, directed by Petty Officer Vernon Reed, served as Color Guard. They were Arthur McFadden, Thomas Ajaj, Bianca Mecoul, Oghenemine Ekasa, Ricardo Guzman, Jack Forrest, Sinclaire Bell,Andrew Mosley and Melissa Powell.

Sheila Langenfeld Chaplain Monee Women’s Auxiliary offered the Prayer of Dedication, and Rachel White, Daughters of the American Revolution, Sauk Trail Chapter, read the names of the veterans buried at the cemetery.

Monee Trustee and Navy veteran John Henson and his wife, Tracey were among the local volunteers placing wreaths on graves.

“I was standing outside thinking, wow it’s cold out here, really cold,” he said. “I then thought about the countless veterans that suffered through the cold and the heat. Slept in holes in the ground, and all for our freedom.

“Kind of puts it in perspective to be honoring our Monee veterans by placing wreaths for an hour or so in the freezing, right. It’s the least we can do for our freedom.”

Coffee, hot chocolate, and cookies were a welcome warm-up after the ceremony in the Fellowship Hall at St. Paul United Church of Christ.

Karen Haave is a freelance reporter.

A Crete-Monee student sounded taps at the close of the ceremony. (Photo by Karen Haave)

 

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