Wreath laying ceremony honors veterans to bring patriotic spirit into the holidays


Elaina Hair

Members of the Coppell Republican Women’s Club hand out wreaths during the wreath laying ceremony on Saturday.. The wreath laying ceremony was held to honor veterans buried at the Rolling Oaks Memorial Center.

Avani Kashyap, Staff Writer

This Saturday at exactly 12 p.m. Eastern time, more than 1,600 cemeteries across the nation began to celebrate National Wreaths Across America day. The Rolling Oaks Memorial Center in Coppell was one of them.

The event, which was hosted by the City of Coppell, is a part of the Wreaths Across America organization, and the ceremony was organized by the Coppell Republican Women’s club.

The Wreath Laying Ceremony is one of the CRW’s projects, which they have now been doing for four years. Family members of the buried veterans receive a letter asking them to come to the ceremony and members of the CRW work with the cemetery staff to prepare for the event.

“Part of our goal is to do things that are patriotic, and we try to honor our first responders with many events such as this during the year,” CRW member Jane Anne Sellars said. “If it wasn’t for our veterans, many of the freedoms that we all take for granted would be gone. It’s really important that we remember why they fought.”

Beginning with the Pledge of Allegiance, the ceremony quickly established a patriotic tone. After a speech thanking, commemorating and remembering the veterans of our country, wreaths were laid to honor each branch of the military as well as individual veterans.

The ceremony also recognized present veterans such as Tony Waterbury, who served for 22 years in the Marine Corps. For Waterbury, who had always wanted to be a part of the military, the experience changed his outlook on the country.

“It teaches you that by being a part of the United States, you should in some way help,” Waterbury said. “The inspiration comes from knowing that the country is bigger than you, and the people that have sacrificed are people you didn’t even know.”

For others, such as veteran Patrick Collins who served for 29 years in the active duty and reserves system, joining the military was strongly influenced by family history. Collins’s grandfather was an Army sergeant, his father was a Navy officer, and he became an Army officer. He believes ceremonies such as these are important to remember and learn from all who served, especially those who gave their lives.

“We need to continue safeguarding our freedom, so that [younger generations] can learn from that and can spread it,” Collins said.

Furthermore, the CRW raised funds through WAA to purchase wreaths for the more than 70 veterans burning at Rolling Oaks. Family members were able to select wreaths to lay at the graves of their loved ones.

Among those laying wreaths were children such as Sophie Keeton, whose grandfather was shot during the Vietnam War. The day was significant for Keeton as she was able to remember and honor a member of her family while celebrating her own freedom.

“I don’t think that Texas would be free without the veterans,” Keeton said. “They help us a lot with being safe and having a free life.”

Through the ceremony, the WAA was able to fulfill its mission of remembering the veterans, honoring the veterans, and teaching younger generations of the value of freedom.