Military, freedom to be honored at Wreaths Across America events in Springfield

The Lagonda Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution will honor the U.S. military and veterans from the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 during the second Wreaths Across America ceremony at noon on Dec. 18 at the Springfield Burying Grounds. Another first-time ceremony will also be that same day and time at St. Bernard Cemetery. Both events are open to the public. Photo by Brett Turner

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The Lagonda Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution will honor the U.S. military and veterans from the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 during the second Wreaths Across America ceremony at noon on Dec. 18 at the Springfield Burying Grounds. Another first-time ceremony will also be that same day and time at St. Bernard Cemetery. Both events are open to the public. Photo by Brett Turner

Idea is to recognize those who serve or have served in any branch of the service.

A nationwide event that debuted in Springfield for the first time last year will double in size in 2021 to spread more recognition of those who serve or have served in the military and teach the value of freedom.

National Wreaths Across America Day on Dec. 18 will have two events in Springfield beginning at noon – the second sponsored by the Lagonda Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) at the Springfield Burying Grounds, formerly the Old Columbia Street Cemetery, 110 W. Columbia St., and a first-time ceremony will be at St. Bernard Cemetery, 27 W. Home Rd.

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Both are free to anyone interested. Each ceremony has a common theme and will complement each other in other ways.

Organizers said the ceremonies should last 20-30 minutes.

DAR marks second ceremony

The local DAR launched its event last year with a lot of hope. They weren’t sure what to expect as it occurred as the pandemic was still in full force, but several people attended, giving organizers encouragement to continue, according to Sonya Ryhal of the Lagonda Chapter.

“It was very pleasant. The people who came were very moved,” she said. “One lady who laid wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery arrived late but wanted her kids to see it. That meant a lot.”

This ceremony will honor the various U.S. military branches and will add the recently-announced U.S. Space Force this time. The ceremony will include the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Taps.”

Since their roots are based in history, the DAR chose the Springfield Burying Grounds for being the resting place of those who fought in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, who will be honored.

As the cemetery undergoes its upcoming restoration, Ryhal and the group are thrilled to be associated with the upcoming renovation at the Burying Grounds over the next year and the prospect of the 2022 ceremony being there when it’s finished.

Ryhal was also touched to get a special request as an addition to this year’s ceremony. A Virginia woman contacted Wreaths Across America and and got in touch with Ryhal with a request to honor her father, a Korean War veteran who retired from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

The woman asked if Ryhal would place a wreath on his grave at Rose Hill Burial Park where he is interred. She was glad to oblige.

“We were honored to hear this request. Maybe we can extend this to other places in the future,” Ryhal said.

Starting a new chapter at St. Bernard’s

Betsy Van Hoose discovered Wreaths Across America at an event in Greenville and wanted to bring it back to Springfield. Her family has a long military association, she’s associated with a local church military ministry and was inspired to research where such a ceremony could be and discovered St. Bernard’s Cemetery has approximately 628 interred veterans.

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It took many days in the heat of the warm months, but Van Hoose trekked all over the cemetery to find markers denoting military service and will honor them at the first ceremony there.

The ceremony will include the Clark County Fraternal Order of Police posting colors, a 21-gun salute and “Taps” from a Marine Corps group and Clark County Purple Heart Veterans will lay a ceremonial wreath honoring POW/MIA veterans. Every U.S. service branch will also be honored.

“It has been a lot of work, but doesn’t feel like work. I’d show up on any date,” said Van Hoose, whose husband is a U.S. Army veteran and has one son who served in the Army and another currently serving in the U.S. Navy.

Van Hoose confessed she’s nervous about this first attempt, but has faith and will be building awareness for future ceremonies.

Champaign County will also have a Wreaths Across America ceremony at Oak Dale Cemetery in Urbana at noon.

For more information on Wreaths Across America, go to wreathsacrossamerica.org/.