SAGUACHE— Wreaths for Valley veterans, purchased with money from a $5,000 Saguache County sales tax grant to the Wreaths Across America organization, were laid at headstones in local cemeteries last week.
The cause is promoted throughout the Valley by Carol Martinez. Saguache County Treasurer Connie Trujillo and veteran Gene Gowens wrote the grant for the wreaths.
“It would be an honor to have any fallen buried veterans in Saguache County have a wreath laid for Christmas,” Trujillo commented in an email last month. Family members of any fallen veteran buried in any Saguache County cemetery were able to purchase the wreaths from Trujillo.
Wreaths were delivered to Saguache County Courthouse for delivery the second week of December. “Many wreaths were given to the fallen here in Saguache County cemeteries and it is my hope that we will be able to continue this each year,” Trujillo said in a recent email.
About 50-70 volunteers came to help lay over 1,500 wreaths in the area this year. The guest speaker was Patty Robertson, recently retired Lt. Colonel, Air Force, after 33 years. She spoke of fallen vets, Trujillo said, and reminded attendees that “our time on this earth is not guaranteed. We need to make that phone call we have been putting off, or go see that family member that we have been thinking of. It was a beautiful and serene day.”
History of veteran wreaths
Wreaths Across America was established as a non-profit organization, an extension of the Arlington Wreath project in which began in1992. The project was started by Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Company, and that year 5,000 wreaths were laid at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C.
Wreaths Across America was born when a photo of snow-covered wreaths at Arlington went viral on the Internet. People nationwide were requesting wreaths, but Worcester was only able to donate seven wreaths to each state wanting them for their cemeteries. The wreaths were escorted to the states by the Patriot Guard Riders for simultaneous wreath-laying ceremonies.
This annual trek was the start of the yearly Veterans Honor Parade.
By 2007, the requests for wreaths had grown phenomenally, and the Wreaths Across America organization was established. By 2008, over 100,000 wreaths were placed on veteran’s graves in 300 locations, including overseas and Puerto Rico. Some 60,000 volunteers participated in the distribution process.
Eventually the second Saturday in December was voted by the U.S. Congress as “Wreaths Across America Day.” This year the wreath-laying was held on Dec. 16.