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Wreaths in remembrance

The Pocahontas County Veterans Honor Corps participated in the nationwide Wreaths Across America Ceremony Saturday, December 19, at the Arbovale Cemetery. More than 2.2 million wreaths were placed at more than 2,150 cemeteries nationwide, including 260,000 wreaths placed in Arlington National Cemetery. The seven wreaths placed at the flagpole in Arbovale were for the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines and POW/MIA. S. Stewart photos
Pocahontas County Honor Corps members stand at attention as Army Specialist 4 Donnie Waybright places a wreath in memory of members of the United States Army. Also placing wreaths were, from left: Army Specialist Ben Lukacek in memory of members of the United States Marine Corps; Ret. Navy Chief Sam Arbogast in memory of members of the United States Navy; Air Force Sgt. Tommy VanReenan in memory of members of the United States Air Force; Air Force Sgt. Howard Shinaberry in memory of members of the United States Coast Guard; Merchant Marine Capt. George Fleck in memory of members of the United States Merchant Marines and Marine Corps Sgt. Duke Fry in honor of the 93,129 service men and women who are classified as Prisoners of War or Missing in Action.

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

The chill in the air didn’t deter the Pocahontas County Veterans Honor Corps from honoring the fallen servicemen and women of Pocahontas County during the annual Wreaths Across America Ceremony December 19.

During the holiday season, more than 2.2 million wreaths are placed at cemeteries throughout the nation to honor the sacrifice made by each man and woman who served in the U.S. armed forces.

Honor Corps Commander Rick Wooddell shared remarks from the Wreaths Across America organization before wreaths were placed around the flagpole.

“This Year the WAA organization announced that the theme for 2020 is ‘Be an American Worth Fighting For,’” Woodell said. “The inspiration for this year’s theme came from a keynote address made by Staff Sgt. Daniel Strong during the 2018 escort to Arlington at a welcome stop at Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School (Monty Tech) located in Fitchburg, Massachuetts. As an infantryman in the United States Marine Corps, he lost eighteen Marines during his service – three were his friends when he was a Lance Corporal, six as their Squad Leader and the remaining nine as their Platoon Sergeant. Each impacted SSgt. Strong in a unique way as he witnessed first-hand what true sacrifice was and experienced the ripple effect it has on all involved.

“His message that December day spoke to the daily importance of the mission to Remember, Honor and Teach, and the emotion is now teacher-engrained in his JROTC students,” Woodell continued. “‘Be an American worth the sacrifice. In your daily operations, and in how you deal with one another and how you live your lives,’ said SSgt. Strong. ‘Those young men and women who are in Arlington National Cemetery and other cemeteries, they earned the right for you to be an American worth fighting for.’

“Today, we show a united front of national unity across the United States of America as we remember the Fallen. Let us honor those who remember, serve and teach our children the value of freedom.”

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