As another round of holidays is upon us, we are reminded of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, and the families who will never be able to take a full family picture again. Each year, Wreaths Across America honors these lost family members by placing wreaths at over 800 cemeteries and state capital ceremonies across the nation Massachusetts had twenty two cemeteries honored this year, with a ceremony at the State House on Friday, December 13th. Secretary of Veterans’ Services Coleman Nee joined Wreaths Across America for the State House event and hosted two additional events at the Agawam and Winchendon Veterans’ Memorial Cemeteries.
“We are honored and humbled to participate with Wreaths Across America,” said Secretary Nee. “The Holiday Season is a special time for everyone, but they can be a difficult time for military families as they remember a departed loved one. Programs like this Wreaths Across America are essential to our communities across the nation as we remember the sacrifices of our service men, women and their families.”
This year, approximately 1,500 wreaths were placed at the Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Winchendon on December 13th. Winchendon received enough donations this year to honor every person laid to rest there and with the extra wreaths then given to the families of local fallen soldiers. Volunteers braved the cold conditions to place the wreaths, and they included: local veterans, Winchendon VFW, Thomas Prince Middle School, Winchendon, Ashburnham, and Westminster high school students, Rick Voutour (Veterans’ Service Officer, Leominster), members of the Patriot Riders Motorcycle Club, and the Fire and Iron Motorcycle Club.
Approximately 1,800 wreaths placed at the Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Agawam, which is almost 700 more wreaths than last year. The Western Mass Chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart was responsible for raising nearly $13,000 in scholarships and donations for this year’s wreaths. Agawam had almost 200 people come view the wreaths this year. Volunteers in Agawam included Springfield Elks Lodge #61, Agawam High School, East Longmeadow High School, and the cemetery volunteers.