Wreaths honor American heroes nationwide

A Marine veteran places a wreath on a grave at Saturday's Wreaths Across America ceremony in Garden Cemetery in Gardnerville.

A Marine veteran places a wreath on a grave at Saturday's Wreaths Across America ceremony in Garden Cemetery in Gardnerville.
Photo by Kurt Hildebrand.

There are at least 430 veterans laid to rest at Eastside Memorial Park and each were honored with evergreen wreaths during Wreaths Across America Saturday.

Eastside Memorial Park’s keynote speaker Rob Diehl, a native of Atlanta, Ga., and a Nevada Army National Guard Retention NCO presented the who, what, when, where and why of the ceremony. Starting with the number of service members buried at Eastside Memorial Park since 1986. Since then, veterans going back to WWII and the Korean war have been honored at the site with the oldest being 101 years old.

“We all know that a lot of the WWII Veterans are leaving us by the day and there are not many of them left, so we are standing in the presence of giants in this space,” said Diehl.

He went on to the “what,” “where,” and “why.”

“This space is about heroes,” he said. “Those that have passed and those that are in our presence. The sacrifice that you all have made and the sacrifice of those that have passed on, has to be recognized and that’s why we are here today on this humbled ground on this beautiful space with these mountains behind. This is a wonderful space for American heroes to rest.”

There were scores of people attending a similar ceremony sponsored by Main Street Gardnerville at Garden Cemetery. Carson Valley Fellowship Pastor Leo Kruger and former Sen. James Settelmeyer spoke before those in attendance placed wreaths on the graves of more than 200 service members.

Each year in December the evergreen wreaths, which are known to symbolize immortality and eternal life, are placed on the headstones of the Nation’s servicemembers across more than 3,700 locations nationwide.

“These are not Christmas wreaths, they are veterans’ wreaths or remembrance wreaths,” according to the Wreaths Across America website.

During Saturday’s event Michelle Norris, Carson Valley Middle School Science and Sport Medicine teacher, sang the National Anthem, the Douglas High School JROTC presented the colors, and a wreath was presented and displayed for each branch of the military before more were placed on headstones in the park. 

Wreaths Across America is a national organization with a mission to remember the fallen, honor those who serve and teach the next generation the value of freedom.

According to the web site, www.wreathsacrossamerica.org, The nonprofit organization was founded in 2007 to continue and to expand the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, which begun by Maine businessman Morrill Worcester in 1992.

Each year since, a theme to carrying out the mission is shared nationwide.

The inspiration for this year’s theme “Serve and Succeed,” piggy-backed 2022’s theme, “Find a way to Serve” and the need to continue to stress the importance of service and the positive ways it can impact lives.

Ceremonies across the country were encouraged to focus on the storylines of veterans and military families who have found success through their own service, while also highlighting local veterans across the country and the success that comes from serving their communities.

Diehl comes from a military family, with both maternal and paternal grandfathers serving in WWII. One as a supply carrier at D-Day and the other a weather forecaster in an aircraft above the D-Day invasion. His father is a Vietnam Marine veteran.

“There is something about service members that’s different, there’s something about the service members here today in our presence, and there’s something special about the veterans who have passed that are here in this hallowed ground.”

Diehl said when he was a recruiter, he’d often ask what drove individuals to make the decision to join the military and to serve.

“They’d say, there’s just something in me that just drives to do something bigger, something better, to give back and be a part of my community, I wanted to be an American hero,” said Diehl.  “This space is about heroes, both in our past and in our present. You are special, you are seen, you are heard and you are valued.”


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