ROWLEY – Last year, when Tammy and Ron Garron attended the Wreaths Across America ceremony in Topsfield, they were so touched by the ceremony they decided this year to bring the initiative that honors veterans to the Rowley Burial Ground.
The Garrons joined Rowley’s Veteran Committee, chaired by Bob Braker, and with Army veteran Jennifer Gately became the co-chairs of the first annual wreath-laying ceremony. It will be held at noon on Dec. 18 in the cemetery next to Town Hall and the library.
“We were just so touched by the program in Topsfield, we felt we had to bring it to Rowley,” Tammy said.
In its first year, the committee, working with the Rowley Volunteer Fire Protection Assn., collected 590 wreaths to place on the graves of 500 veterans buried in the Rowley cemetery. And more are coming in. That means the Garrons and Gately have 90 wreaths for next year’s event.
On the same day, the Newbury Scout Troop 44 for the third year will place wreaths on veterans’ graves in Newbury, Byfield and Newburyport. The ceremony will be held at 9 a.m. at the Byfield Community Arts Center, 7 Central St., followed by the wreath placements.
National Wreaths Across America Day, whose mission is to remember, honor and teach, coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery and at more than 2,500 additional locations in all 50 states, at sea and abroad.
Wreaths Across America is a national program honoring the fallen veterans that began in 1992, when Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Co. of Harrington, Me. had a surplus of wreaths at the holiday season ended. Remembering a visit to Arlington National Cemetery when he was a 12-year-old paper boy for the Bangor Daily News, he offered the extra wreaths through U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe to honor veterans at the national cemetery in Virginia.
Thus began a national event to honor America’s fallen heroes.
Sponsors for the Rowley event include Microsoft Corp., where Ron Garron is employed, plus several local businesses, including the Three Sweet Pea bakery, Jersey Mike’s sandwich shop in Newburyport, Rowley Cement Corp. and the Rowley Volunteer Fire Protection Assn.
If you would like to volunteer in the wreath laying ceremony, visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/marbgr and click the Volunteer button next to the cemetery name below. You may also invite friends and family.