by Lisa Tome
There will be two locations in Cecil County where people can be part of Wreaths Across America.
Wreaths Across America is a national event which began in 1992 with volunteers laying wreaths on the graves of fallen soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. Now, it is a national event with more than 1,110 locations across the U.S. The mission of Wreaths Across America is to Remember, Honor, and Teach.
A year ago, Julie Swoboda, a current senior at The Tome School, kicked off Cecil's first Wreaths Across America at St. Mary Anne's Episcopal Church in North East. Swoboda is back for a second year with the event. After this year, she will turn coordination of Wreaths Across America at St. Mary Anne's over to Hannah Sadler.
The ceremony at St. Mary Anne's will begin promptly at noon on Saturday, December 16. Representatives from different military branches will lay ceremonial wreaths followed by volunteers placing wreaths on veteran's graves.
Volunteers are also needed for that same date to help place wreaths on nearly 100 graves of veterans in Charlestown. "We are very fortunate that North East VFW donated $1,000 for wreaths," said Jeannette Armour. Armour, who grew up in Charlestown said she was inspired by Swoboda's effort last year so she signed on to lead the Wreaths Across America this year at Charlestown cemetery at St. John's Church on Market Street.
There will also be a ceremony in Charlestown. Veterans Wib Pumpaly - Army, Joe Letts - Navy, Ken Confalone - Air Force, and Prosper Boudart - Marines, will be among those laying ceremonial wreaths.
Armour has done extensive research in the Charlestown cemetery at St. John's and found the graves of 99 veterans including 16 from the Civil War and one female. There are also at least three Purple Heart Veterans buried there.
"I just love Charlestown. It's my hometown and I wanted to pay back my hometown," said Armour. "I was surprised there are so many veterans. That's a lot for a small town."
"I'm very excited. I've wanted to do this for a long time. We're hoping a lot of the veteran's families come," she said. Anyone who wants to volunteer in Charlestown for wreath laying is asked to call Armour at 410-392-9247. Armour is also accepting photos of veterans which will be displayed at Charlestown Fire Hall.
There will be a luncheon following the wreath laying and those attending the free event will get a chance to see some of those who were honored.