Wreaths Across America nears goal of 1,000 wreaths

By Christian Mysliwiec - Staff Writer
South Windsor - posted Fri., Dec. 21, 2012
The Rev. Doug Rowse leads a benediction at Veteran's Memorial Park. Photos by Christian Mysliwiec.
The Rev. Doug Rowse leads a benediction at Veteran's Memorial Park. Photos by Christian Mysliwiec.

For the third year in a row, the community came together for Wreaths Across America in South Windsor, hosted by the American Legion Post 133. Donations collected prior to the event were used to purchase wreaths, which volunteers from the Girl and Boy Scouts placed at the graves of veterans throughout town.

Veterans, active-duty members of the armed forces, honor guards from the police and fire departments, town officials, family and friends gathered at Veteran's Memorial Park on Saturday, Dec. 15. The solemn occasion was made all the more somber by the shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., just the day before.

“The United States of America was founded on the ideals of freedom, justice and equality,” said Art Sladyk, senior vice commander at Post 133, and the event organizer. “Our nation stands as a shining beacon of liberty and freedom to the world. We thank those who have given their lives to keep us free, and we shall not forget them. We shall remember.”

He thanked all who have served the country through the armed services, and urged others to thank them as well. “When you see a veteran, or an active-duty member of the armed forces, please take a moment to say thank you. We owe them our way of life,” he said.

Wreaths were placed at monuments representing the six branches of the military as well as Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action.

Mayor Thomas Delnicki placed a wreath on the town monument in honor of those from South Windsor who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Wreaths were also placed to honor the veterans of World War I, World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam.

The Rev. Doug Rowse of New River Community Church and chaplain of the South Windsor Fire Department gave the benediction. He gave thanks for the sacrifice of veterans, as well as the sacrifice of their families. “Lord, I thank you for the families that have given up their loved ones, who have sacrificed, in order that we may enjoy the freedoms that we have,” he said.

He also asked for blessings on the town of Newtown. In lieu of a gun salute, Sladyk asked for a moment of silence.

When Sladyk first organized the event three years ago, they raised enough funds for 50 wreaths. Last year, the amount shot up to 450. This year, they were able to purchase 760 wreaths. “We have approximately 1,000 veterans in our cemeteries in South Windsor, and unfortunately the number is growing,” said Sladyk. His goal is to place a wreath for every veteran buried in town. “I feel very confident that next year we will reach that goal,” he said.

After the event, Scouts, parents and volunteers worked busily to place the wreaths at the graves of veterans in town.

“Each year the turnout seems better than the year before,” observed Sladyk after the event. “One of the nicest sights was later at the cemeteries and the turnout of our community to place wreaths on our veterans’ gravesites and taking a moment while doing so to reflect and say 'thank you' for their service to our great nation.”

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