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Fallen soldiers remembered with wreath ceremony

By Staff | Dec 13, 2009

After nearly two decades of the Worsester Wreath Company providing wreaths for fallen soldiers across the country, the ceremony made its debut at Eco Park with the help of the Air Force Civil Air Patrol Division on Saturday.

Linda Lafonso, public affairs officer for Lee County, U.S. Air Force Civil Air Control said KWVA #155 donated the wreaths for the first Lee County wreath laying ceremony, which began at 10 a.m.

“They donated $150 in wreaths,” she said.

Six members from the KWVA were in attendance during Saturday’s ceremony. Those members included President Bob Hebner, Ron Higgins, Paul Griffin, Secretary Bob Kent, Master of Arms Jerry Montagnino and First Vice President Mouse Kloeker.

Lafonso said in 2008 the Senate declared Dec. 12 as an official holiday. Lafonso explained that at noon various places around the country conduct wreath laying ceremonies to adorn headstones of veterans’ graves.

The Wreaths Across America began in Arlington after Morrill Worcester was inspired by he won a trip to the nation’s capital and Arlington National Cemetery he won when he was 12, according to a prepared statement.

“In 1992, Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine found themselves with an excess of wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season,” the prepared statement said. “Seeing an opportunity to make a boyhood dream a reality, efforts to do something special with those wreaths began in earnest.”

Arrangements were made to place wreaths at Arlington with the help of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe and the Maine State Society of D.C.

In 2006, Worcester Wreaths expanded their donations nationwide, providing ceremonies at 230 locations, with the help of the Civil Air Patrol and others.

The non-profit Wreaths Across America Organization recently expanded the program by offering supporters with the opportunity to sponsor a wreath.

The local wreath ceremony had a rifle salute, speech by Lt. Col. Spieth USAF Ret./Cap. presenting of the colors, wreath laying and the playing of the taps.

Lafonso said the wreaths that were used in Saturday’s ceremonies in Lee County arrived that morning from Maine.

Spieth read a poem titled “A Different Christmas Poem” to the crowd who gathered around the park.

A portion of the poem read, “Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night, a lone figure stood, his face weary and tight. A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old, perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold. Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled, standing watch over me, and my wife and child.”

The poem that Spieth read concluded by stating “Just tell us you love us, and never forget. To fight for our rights back at home while we’re gong, to stand your own watch, no matter how long. For when we come home, either standing or dead, to know you remember we fought and we bled. Is payment enough, and with that we will trust, that we mattered to you as you mattered to us.”

Lafonso said Lt. Col. Spieth decided to hold the ceremony in Cape Coral because it is a beautiful tradition.

She said the ceremony was very touching to her because many of her husband’s family members served in all the branches of the military.

“Personally, to me, it was very touching,” Lafonso said about the ceremony because it provided her with the opportunity to honor her family members.

She said the ceremony at Eco Park was also nice because the wreaths honored all the veterans of each military branch.