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Veterans honored at Wreaths Across America ceremony

Members of the Pocahontas County Veterans Honor Corps place wreaths at the Arbovale Cemetery Saturday for the National Wreaths Across America ceremony. From left, Jerry Taylor places a wreath  honoring the United States Air Force as Norris Long, Dick Riegel and Willard Pingley wait to place the others. S. Stewart photo
Members of the Pocahontas County Veterans Honor Corps place wreaths at the Arbovale Cemetery Saturday for the National Wreaths Across America ceremony. From left, Jerry Taylor places a wreath honoring the United States Air Force as Norris Long, Dick Riegel and Willard Pingley wait to place the others. S. Stewart photo

On December 13, throughout America, Christmas wreaths were placed on the graves of service men and women in honor of their service to their country.

The Pocahontas County Veterans Honor Corps joined the ceremony as it placed seven wreaths at the Arbovale Cemetery.

“We placed live balsam remembrance wreaths to ensure that the veterans who are buried here, who served to protect the freedoms of our country are not and never will be forgotten,” Honor Corps Commander Rick Wooddell said. “The wreaths were provided by the Wreaths Across America program. There are seven of them – six for the branches of service plus the POW wreath.”

The wreaths were placed in a circle around the flag pole at the entrance of the cemetery so all who visit will see and remember the veterans who served.

During the ceremony, Wooddell explained the importance of honoring veterans.

“Lying around here and in cemeteries throughout this nation are men and women who gave their lives so we can live in freedom and without fear,” he said. “We can worship as we see fit. We can raise our children to believe as we do. We can travel from one end of this great nation to the other and not have to ask permission to go. We are free to vote for whomever we feel should be in government office and we answer to no one but our own feelings. We have the right to succeed and we have the right to fail at whatever endeavor we wish to pursue.

“We thank those who gave their lives to keep us free and we shall not forget you. We shall remember.”

Placing the wreaths were: Spec 4 Donnie Waybright, United States Army; Sergeant Homer Hunter, United States Marine Corps; Retired Navy Chief Sam Arbogast, United States Navy; Airman First Class Jerry Taylor, United States Air Force; Second Class Petty Officer Norris Long, United States Coast Guard; Spec 4 Dick Riegel, United States Merchant Marines; and Sergeant Willard Pingley, POW/MIA.

Wooddell said 93,129 United States service men and women from all branches of the service are recorded as Prisoners of War or Missing in Action [POW/MIA].

As families gather to celebrate the holidays this season, Wooddell said it is important to also celebrate the lives of all veterans.

“To our children, we want you to understand the freedoms you enjoy today that might be free, but have come at the cost that some day you may have to pay yourself,” he said. “As a nation standing together, we can defeat terrorism, hatred and injustice. Thanks to our veterans, we have the freedom to do just that.”

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