The Missouri Veterans Cemetery at Fort Leonard Wood was the scene of a reverent crowd on Saturday as the community, local dignitaries, and the loved ones of the individuals laid to rest at the cemetery came together for Wreaths Across America.
Wreaths Across America has grown into a national movement and tradition where wreaths are placed on the graves of veterans to honor their lives, thier memories, and their service. The Missouri Veterans Cemetery at Fort Leonard Wood is one of over 1,200 locations in the U.S. where wreaths are laid, according to www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.
It began when Morrill Worcestor's wreath company had a surplus of 5,000 wreaths near the end of the holiday season in 1992. With help from others, he was able to donate the wreaths and arrange for them to be laid at Arlington National Cemetery in an older part of the cemetery. The wreath laying tradiiton continued for the company for several years, growing, until a national non-profit was formed to help the wreath laying tradition come to other cemeteries.
In Waynesville, on Saturday, the ceremony was a well-attended event. Crowds of people were in attendance, parking offsite and being bussed to the cemetery to take part. Local civic groups, Scout troops, and other organizations were on hand to help pass out wreaths to be laid on graves at the cemetery.
The Daily Guide was on-hand at the event and broadcast much of it live on the Daily Guide's Facebook page. The signal was a little spotty, but most of the ceremony is available to view.
A key speaker at the event was Major General Kent. D. Savre, the Commanding General of the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood. Savre pointed to Wreaths Across America's main tenate, "remember, honor, and teach" as important on the occasion.
The ceremony included a 21 gun salute and the ceremonial laying of the wreaths. The wreaths represented each branch of the service and the final wreath for those missing in action and prisoners of war.
After the ceremony, volunteers, such as the Scouts, helped to hand out wreaths to thos in attendance so that they could lay the wreaths on the graves of the veterans.