Holiday wreath ceremony pays tribute to veterans

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Gathered at the Veterans’ Lot of the Mountain View Cemetery for a wreath-laying ceremony are representatives of Shrewsbury veterans’ organizations: (l to r) retired Maj. Alan Harrington, retired Maj. Gail Harrington, Adjutant John Travers, Commander James Dunlevy, Commander Fred Russell, Mel Billings, Mike Bellows and Charles Kiefer.
Photo/Ed Karvoski Jr.

By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer

Shrewsbury – The holiday season is traditionally a time to remember others with a gesture of appreciation. On a chilly Dec. 16, fallen military veterans were remembered with a wreath-laying ceremony at Mountain View Cemetery in Shrewsbury.

For the fourth year, the Victor R. Quaranta American Legion Post 397 sponsored the ceremony in conjunction with Wreaths Across America (WAA). In exchange for a donation to WAA, the post received 27 wreaths to place at veterans’ graves. The local ceremony was coordinated by Commander Fred Russell. He spoke about why all veterans deserve to be recognized not only on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, but year-round.

“They fought under the worst conditions that would make today look like a summer’s day,” he said.

Also paying tribute to veterans with remarks were state Rep. Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) and Selectmen Chair John Lebeaux. Attendees included Selectmen Beth Casavant, Maurice DePalo, James Kane and Moira Miller.

Joining several Quaranta American Legion Post 397 members to lay wreaths were veterans of the Ray Stone American Legion Post 238 and Charles J. Murphy VFW Post 10278. Shrewsbury was one of 1,422 WAA locations nationwide to place 1.57 million wreaths, a 30 percent increase from last year.

In addition to Shrewsbury, other Massachusetts locations with WAA ceremonies this year were Agawam, Bedford, Boston, Bourne, Brighton, Charlestown, Chelmsford, Danvers, Devens, Dorchester, East Boston, Georgetown, Gloucester, Haverhill, Holland, Hyde Park, Ludlow, Malden, Newbury, Paxton, Roxbury, Salem, Scituate, Somerset, South Boston, Swampscott, Topsfield, Wakefield, Westford, West Roxbury, Winchendon and Worcester.

Once again, the largest observance took place at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia with about 246,000 wreaths placed this year.

This is the 26th year that the Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, delivered holiday wreaths to Arlington. A convoy of about 40 vehicles including tractor-trailers packed with the wreaths stopped overnight Dec. 11 in Marlborough. The convoy makes stops along the route to spread WAA’s mission to remember fallen military veterans, honor those who serve and teach children the value of freedom.

For more information about WAA, visit wreathsacrossamerica.org and on Facebook at facebook.com/WAAHQ.