Community honors military, veterans with wreaths

Midday rains didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of community members to support two events that honored the U.S. Military and veterans on Saturday.

National Wreaths Across America Day saw the Lagonda Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution mark their second ceremony at the Springfield Burying Grounds, formerly the Old Columbia Street Cemetery, and a new ceremony was done at St. Bernard Cemetery where hundreds of wreaths were laid on veterans’ graves there.

National Wreaths Across America Day is a nation-wide recognition of the service branches, those who have fallen, those who served and are currently serving in the military, and to teach about the value of freedom.

Though separate, the two ceremonies complemented each other. Eight wreaths were laid for each U.S. Military branch, including the recently-announced U.S. Space Force for the first time, at the Burying Grounds, where Springfield soldiers from the Revolutionary War and a few from the War of 1812 are interred.

That event included posting of colors, the U.S. flag presentation, singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Taps” played by John Eichelberger, a retired Marine. A surprise visitor from the George Rogers Clark Chapter of Sons of the American Revolution supported it by saluting in costume with his sword.

More than 100 people came to support the first event at St. Bernard Cemetery, led by Betsy Van Hoose. The ceremony was in the chapel and people who couldn’t get in gathered outside.

The turnout thrilled Van Hoose, who said she was grateful for the last-minute accommodations St. Bernard management made to support the ceremony.

“Anybody who’s been in the military knows bad weather is part of it, and you press on,” she said. “This shows our differences can be set aside in our country to honor our veterans. We’re thankful to God to be able to do this.”

The Clark County Fraternal Order of Police posted colors and a 21-gun salute and “Taps” from local Marine Corps League members added to the vent.

Among the attendees were Clark County Sheriff Deb Burchett, who brought her father, U.S. Army Air Corps World War II veteran Charles Burchett.

“I’ve never seen one of these, I loved it,” Charles Burchett said.

Sheriff Burchett said the ceremony and intent were heartwarming in honoring those who enabled our way of life.

Volunteers laid nearly 700 wreaths at veterans’ graves throughout St. Bernard, including Catholic Central student Alex Ackroyd, who said it was something he wanted to do as a tribute to those who served.

The event was successful enough that Van Hoose told attendees to keep Dec. 17, 2022 open for the next National Wreaths Across America Day.

The Lagonda Chapter’s second event reached a new level when member Sonya Ryhal received a special request from a lady who lives and works in the Washington, D.C. area, whose organization had supported Wreaths Across America events at Arlington National Cemetery.

Former Enon resident Christie Circle wanted to recognize her dad Loren Minsterman, who served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War and worked for 35 years at Wright-Patterson AFB. She consulted with the Wreaths Across America organization and they put her into contact with Ryhal, requesting a wreath be placed in Minsterman’s memory at his interment location at Springfield’s Rose Hill Burial Park.

“What I do with veterans and their service is on my mind and how much I miss my dad. This was a way to acknowledge dad’s service,” Circle said. “For Sonja and the DAR to do this for my family says something about who we are in Ohio, the Midwest and Clark County. It feels like extended family.”

It also inspired Circle to take her children to participate in a Wreaths Across America ceremony in her area and donate a wreath.

Following the Lagonda Chapter event, Ryhal drove across town to Rose Hill to fulfill the request. She said God was smiling on their contribution by allowing the rain to reduce to drizzle by ceremony time and for this.

“We’re very proud at the DAR. We feel we’re contributing something to our history, our roots and the community, and doing this if feels like we have completed that purpose,” she said.

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