Irving — A number of veterans, Scouts, the Irving Silvertones, and the Irving Police and Fire Departments joined the community in honoring deceased military members, veterans and first responders during a Wreaths Across America event hosted at Oak Grove Memorial Gardens on Saturday, Dec. 14.
The ceremony was one of more than 16,000 events that took place nation-wide. Wreaths were also placed at Bear Creek, Haley, Old Kit, Shade Grove, and Sowers Cemeteries.
“Today it is important that we take time out of joyous activities to decorate the graves of veterans and first responders,” Terry Meza, Texas House of Representatives, said. “These men and women worked and served to give us the opportunity to freely celebrate the Christmas season.”
Mayor Rick Stopfer emphasized Wreaths Across America’s goal to teach children about the military.
“We are fortunate to be in a country that is the freest and has the most benefits for its citizens in all of the world and that comes with a price,” Mayor Rick Stopfer said. “We need to make sure the next generation realizes the freedoms we have were built on the backs of the men and women who dedicated their lives to serve us through the military.”
The Irving American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) purchased wreaths for the ceremony. George Warringer, representing VFW Post 2494 said the event is important for the bringing together of community.
“People may think that Wreaths Across America is just a veterans’ organization, but it is for all of our community,” Warringer said. “We all come together to make this event happen.”
Ethel Schulze and her family came to place wreaths on graves, especially her late husband’s grave.
“It is important, because they are why we are free,” Schulze said. “My sons and their families all are here, including my grandkids. They came in from out of town to come and join me here today.”
Many Scout troops were also in attendance.
“We are laying wreaths to honor fallen veterans,” Romeo (9) said. “We are with Cub Scout Pack #254. It is important for Cub Scouts to come and do this. We are kind of like mini-veterans. We are trying to help people too. I want to ask my friends to come next time.”
Carson West (14) attended with his Boy Scout troop #771 from Argyle, Texas.
“Mr. Robert Downey is with the Honor Guard for the Fire Department and is our Boy Scout Troop Leader. He told us about this,” West said. “As Boy Scouts we are coming out here to honor the veterans, even if we did not know them personally. We are serving our country in this way.”
Wreaths Across America collects monetary donations all year long for this event. Organizer Gary Lee Westerman announced a corporate sponsor matching all donations made between now and Jan. 15. More information is available on the website https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/
Written by Aubrey Turner