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South Valley Journal

Wreaths Across America comes to Riverton City Cemetery

Dec 04, 2019 10:43AM ● By Stephanie Yrungaray

A child places a wreath on the grave of a veteran in Arlington National Cemetery (photo courtesy of Wreaths Across America.)

By Stephanie Yrungaray | [email protected]

The Riverton Historic Preservation Commission’s Christmas wish is that a wreath will grace the headstone of every veteran in the Riverton City Cemetery. 

In collaboration with the Daughters of the American Revolution, the local American Legion and the non-profit organization Wreaths Across America, the RHPC is seeking donations to purchase wreaths for the more than 324 veterans interred in the Riverton City Cemetery. For a $15 donation, people can purchase a wreath for a specific veteran buried in the cemetery or donated toward any veteran who hasn’t received a wreath. 

A nationwide event on Dec. 14 at 10 a.m. MST will include a short ceremony followed by volunteers placing a wreath on each headstone after reading the veteran’s name. 

“I thought it was a worthy and wonderful way to honor our veterans,” said Linda Abel, chair of the RHPC and member of the DAR. “Riverton is the 13th location in Utah participating in Wreaths Across America.”  

At the time of the South Valley Journal’s printing, 80 wreaths have been purchased. Riverton Historic Preservation Commission member and Riverton Deputy City Recorder Joy Johnson said they are hopeful that they will have received enough donations by the Dec. 2 deadline to place wreaths on each and every veteran’s grave. 

“We are really anxious to get every wreath purchased,” Johnson said. “If we miss this year, we will try it again next year, but we are hopeful that all of the graves will be sponsored this year.”

Abel said depending on the number of wreaths purchased, they will be placed in order of when the veteran served our country. 

“We will start with the two oldest veteran graves, one from the Black Hawk Indian War and one from the Civil War,” said Abel. “Then we will place the wreaths to begin to cover World War I veterans. We don’t have enough wreaths to place on all of the veterans’ graves because we got a late start, but our goal for next year is to have a wreath for every veteran.” 

Wreaths Across America is a nonprofit organization that was officially founded in 2007 by Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreaths. Worcester had been organizing and donating wreaths for ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery for the 15 years prior. After the desire for local wreath-laying ceremonies exceeded the Worcester family’s ability to help, Wreaths Across America was started and has become the organizing force behind thousands of veteran wreath ceremonies. 

Nick Flake, a Vietnam war veteran and the commander of VFW Post 12087 in Riverton said he is happy that Wreaths Across America has reached Riverton. 

“It makes me very proud that they are doing this,” Flake said. “As far as vets go, if you recognize them the best thing you can do is thank them for their service. A veteran writes a blank check up to and including his life for his country.”

Johnson said the project, including volunteering to place wreaths, is a wonderful thing for families to do together. 

“It’s always fun to find a great December project, and this is an inspiring one,” Johnson said. 

She said it is also a special way for people who live far away from their veterans’ graves to be able to connect and remember them. 

“My family is all buried in Oregon,” Johnson said. “I can’t honor my dad’s grave in person, but I can honor a veteran’s grave in Riverton.”

Abel also purchased a wreath in honor of her father. 

“My father is a veteran buried in a cemetery in Virginia that isn’t part of Wreaths Across America,” she said. “I bought one in honor of him to put here in Riverton.”   

Johnson said the cause helps people of all ages reflect on the sacrifices that veterans have made.

“The whole theme of Wreaths Across America is to honor and remember,” she said. “This is an opportunity to remember our veterans and teach our children the importance of honoring those who served.”