Nearly 2,000 participate in 2014 Wreaths Across America Ceremony

Nearly 2,000 participate in 2014 Wreaths Across America Ceremony

Posted on December 18, 2014 by Linda Gould, consultant with The Patterson Foundation

What an amazing community turnout for the 2014 Wreaths Across America event on Dec. 13 at Sarasota National Cemetery. This year, the number of community attendees more than doubled as the ceremony was hosted in Patriot Plaza, the new 2,800-seat ceremonial amphitheater designed and donated by The Patterson Foundation in partnership with the National Cemetery Administration.

Last year about 800-1,000 people participated in the annual remembrance-wreath ceremony -- but 2014 participation was close to 2,000 individuals and families. As everyone gathered at Sarasota National Cemetery, veterans wore their memorabilia to show where and when they served and sat alongside young new members of our military.

Sarasota Military Academy cadets and Young Marines from Venice High School demonstrated that our youth take citizenship, honor and duty seriously as they handed out coffee and hot chocolate on a chilly morning, helped park almost 2,000 cars and ensured that a wreath was placed on every gravesite.

Wreaths Across America began in 2007 and takes place on the second Saturday of December in every state across the country. Remembrance wreaths are placed on gravesites at each of our National Cemeteries to honor and remember our heroes who have passed. The number of those we remember grows each year as we say goodbye to veterans of wars and conflicts past, their spouses, and as we also bid farewell to those currently serving who pass on.

This year, our local community provided 8,000 wreaths, which included the gravesites and columbarium remembrance areas at Sarasota National Cemetery and even gave us the chance to donate some wreaths to Bushnell National Cemetery north of Tampa, which has more than 130,000 gravesites. This program is but one of the many ways to honor veterans at Sarasota National Cemetery.

Patriot Plaza gives our community a place to gather to remember, to reflect, and to honor those who pass before us. The community pride on Dec. 13 was palpable. Stories abounded as proud veterans told of World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Cold War service, while mothers and fathers took pictures or newly inducted military and cadets proudly wore their school uniforms. Fellowship and a kindred spirit and pride was shared by all. We remember that all gave some, but some gave all to ensure that freedom continues, and we need to pass it on.

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