Community turns out in support of Wreaths Across America 2022

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Photo courtesy Eddie Abbott

By Linda Hobbs | Wreaths Across America

On a beautiful and cold Saturday morning, Dec. 17, veterans, civilians and children gathered at Hill Top Cemetery to lay wreaths at the graves of our veterans interred there. 

Hill Top participated in Wreaths Across America for the second time and was just one of thousands of cemeteries to participate in the almost 20-year tradition. 

Worldwide, 2.7 million wreaths were laid to further the mission of “Remember the fallen, Honor those who serve and Teach our children the value of freedom.”

The San Juan Squadron, Pagosa’s formation flying team, began the ceremony at 10 a.m. with a four-plane double flyover, including the Missing Man. 

Raymond Taylor and Rick Walker, members from the American Legion and Veterans for Veterans, performed the duties honoring our veterans with military honors of posting colors, receiving remembrance wreaths, rifle volley and playing taps. 

Eve Taylor, Gold Star Mom, and Niara Isley, Air Force, retired, led the Pledge of Allegiance and the “National Anthem,” respectively, and Rick Walker led the opening prayer. 

All of these duties and wreath laying were performed in an honorable, dignified and quiet setting by the flagpole at Hill Top. 

Brady Walker, grandson of Rick Walker, presented eight remembrance wreaths to the wreath guards representing each branch of the service, in memory of those who served and are serving in the armed forces: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines and the 92,000-plus POW/MIA. 

Linda Hobbs, location coordinator, and vice regent of the Sarah Platt Decker Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, and life member of Vets for Vets, emceed the ceremony.

Duties of remembrance wreath guard, color guard, honor guard and bugler were fulfilled by Jim Huffman, George Love, Tom Zilhaver, Frank Matthews, Amanda Rivers, Raymond Taylor, Ed Griggs Jr., Buck Frisbee, Shawna Snarr, and Ed Griggs III, Roy Vega and Kenny Rogers.

Mayor Shari Pierce read the town’s proclamation proclaiming Dec. 17 as Wreaths Across America Day. 

Afterward, volunteers placed wreaths on graves of our veterans, including some at Pope John Paul II Catholic Church Columbarium and St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church Memorial Garden. Hill Top regularly honors our veterans on Memorial Day with the placing of flags at graves and a Veterans Day ceremony. 

An event like this cannot happen in a vacuum; many volunteers stepped up to assist with transportation, marking graves, prepositioning the wreaths, refreshments, not to mention wreath sponsorship leadership. All volunteers are appreciated.

Wreaths are sponsored by individuals, groups, corporations, etc. for $15 each, and are made by loving volunteer hands in Maine. They are shipped all over the world to be laid simultaneously on Wreath Day in December annually. Each participating cemetery may have many sponsoring groups to help achieve the mission. This year, more than 2.7 million wreaths were laid at over 3,700 cemeteries.

Now through Jan. 15, 2023, the wreaths organization is matching each wreath sponsored one-for-one. Year-end sponsorships can help be a great gift for those who have everything, fulfill charitable contributions for the year or be a great way to start the year. For more information about sponsoring groups, volunteering or more information about the matching offer, please contact Linda Hobbs, Hill Top Cemetery location coordinator, at (713) 304-2028 or LindaHobbs713@gmail.com. 

This community is so lucky to be veteran focused. 

SUN photos/Terri House