South Windsor's Wreaths Across America event honors those who served

By Annie Gentile - ReminderNews
South Windsor - posted Mon., Dec. 23, 2013
Roger Anderson lays a ceremonial wreath honoring those who served from South Windsor who were Prisoners of War or who went Missing In Action. Photos by Annie Gentile.
Roger Anderson lays a ceremonial wreath honoring those who served from South Windsor who were Prisoners of War or who went Missing In Action. Photos by Annie Gentile.

Wreaths Across America is an annual event held amidst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. It is a time when Americans are asked to take a moment out of their busy schedules to remember those who served in the military and to thank those serving today.

On Saturday, Dec. 14, members of American Legion Post 133 hosted the fourth annual Wreaths Across America event at Veterans Memorial Park in South Windsor. During the ceremony, wreaths were laid in remembrance of those who served in the six branches of the military - the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines - as well as for those who were prisoners of war or missing in action.

Ceremonial wreaths were also laid at the individual monuments in memory of each of those South Windsor residents who were killed in WWI, WWII, the Korean War, and in Vietnam, with Mayor Saud Anwar laying the first wreath at the South Windsor Town Monument.

“The freedoms we enjoy today have not come without a price,” said American Legion Post 133 Commander Art Sladyk.

Major General James Throwe offered a prayer and blessing of the wreaths, taken from General George Patton’s prayer to his troops in December of 1944. At that time, the weather was making it very difficult for troops, and in his prayer, he beseeched God to “restrain these immoderate rains with which we have to contend,” and “grant us fair weather for battle.”

While those who attended the event shivered under the cold and blustery snowfall, Sladyk took that opportunity to remind everyone that veterans of the various wars suffered under far more difficult conditions.

According to its website, Wreaths Across America was started in 1992 by Morrill Worcester, who owned the Worcester Wreath Company in Maine. That year, he donated a surplus of wreaths to the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., placing them on the graves of fallen soldiers. Since that time, the practice has become an annual remembrance, expanded nationwide as well as to some foreign sites. South Windsor first participated in the event in 2010.

Sladyk noted that there are nearly 1,000 soldiers buried in South Windsor cemeteries, and they have always had a goal to place a wreath at the gravestone of every war veteran in town. In their first year of holding the Wreaths Across America event, the American Legion received donations of 50 wreaths, Sladyk said. In their second year they received donations of 450 wreaths, and in their third year, 760 wreaths. This year, however, they surpassed their goal receiving donations of 1,026 wreaths.

“Hats off to our community,” said Sladyk. “I couldn’t be any prouder of our community,” he said.

After the ceremony, all were invited to join the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in placing wreaths at the various graves.

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