Wreaths Across America services set for Saturday
Coral Ridge Funeral Home & Cemetery will host a Wreaths Across America service Saturday.
The wreath placement will begin at 11 a.m. followed by a service at noon in the Veterans Honor Garden. The event is free and open to the public.
Cape Coral Mayor Joe Coviello will be among the speakers. Special guests will include Gold Star families and local veterans organizations. Volunteers will place wreaths on the graves of more than 1,700 deceased veterans at the cemetery and will say their names to honor their legacy.
“We hope the families who join us for the service gain a deeper appreciation for the importance of honoring our military, whether it’s those currently serving or veterans who served in the past.” said Coral Ridge Funeral Home program director Chuck Warren, an Air Force veteran and program chair for the event.
Following the noon ceremony, there will be additional wreaths laid on the graves of veterans at the cemetery. There are almost 3,000 veterans buried at the cemetery according to Jill Davidson, one of the organizers of the ceremony. There are not enough wreaths to cover the dead. The wreaths cost approximately $15 each and many of the deceased rest in the mausoleum, Davidson said. The priority at the ceremony will be to place wreaths for those buried in the ground.
There will be more wreaths this year than last due to a late surge in the donation of wreaths, Davidson said.
“A lot of people stepped up to the plate at the last minute,” she said. “Every stone has its own little history behind it. As you stand there and say that person’s name, that person is never forgotten.”
For Davidson, Wreaths Across America is personal. She lost her son, Air Force veteran Thomas Rakisjasic, eight years ago. She said his death was caused by PTSD. His passing inspired her to join Wreaths Across America.
“I have a military family,” she said.
On Saturday, Davidson said she will say “thank you sir or thank you ma’am for protecting our freedoms.”
Veterans organizations from around the county and region will be holding similar ceremonies in honor of National Wreaths Across America Day. Nationally, more than 1,600 local and national cemeteries will have some type of wreath ceremony. For a complete list, you can visit wreathsacrossamerica.org/.
Operation: Tribute at Sea will honor those who were lost or buried at sea when the nonprofit organization Wreaths Across America escorts wreaths to the U.S. Coast Guard Station on Fort Myers Beach Saturday. The wreaths will be delivered at 11 a.m. following a similar event at Horton Park in Cape Coral at 10:30 a.m.
Wreaths Across America also runs the “Thanks a Million” campaign which distributes cards to people all over the country to give veterans a “thank you” for their service.
The organization was started by Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Company in Maine who began the project by placing surplus wreaths from the holidays at Arlington National Cemetery.
Hundreds of thousands of wreaths have since been placed across the graves of veterans across the country to honor their service.
Coral Ridge Funeral Home & Cemetery is at 1630 SW Pine Island Road.
Horton Park is at 2600 S.E. 26th Place.
U.S. Coast Guard Station on Fort Myers Beach is at 719 San Carlos Drive.