Springfield to honor deceased veterans with Wreaths Across America events

Wreaths, a festive part of the holiday season, will take on a different meaning on Saturday when deceased veterans are remembered locally and nationally.

National Wreaths Across America Day, in which veterans graves are honored with wreaths, will be marked with ceremonies at three Springfield cemeteries. The Lagonda Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), which began the local tradition, will do its fourth event at the historic Springfield Burying Ground, 120 W. Columbia St., while the third annual ceremony will be at Saint Bernard Cemetery, 27 W. Home Rd.

Both events begin at noon and are free and open to the public. A third ceremony and the second at Newcomers Cemetery 2055 Mechanicsburg Rd., will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday led by the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 13.

Wreaths Across America ceremonies are planned for noon at cemeteries across the U.S. where veterans are interred.

DAR returns to renovated Springfield Burying Ground

The DAR established Springfield’s first Wreaths Across America ceremony in 2020 when the Springfield Burying Ground was beginning an extensive renovation project, and this is the first time it will be performed in the completed cemetery, which was dedicated in May. It is the final resting place of several participants of the Revolutionary War.

“The cemetery is lovely. It is quite well done and the land is open and we encourage people to walk around it and read the plaques to appreciate our history,” said Sonya Ryhal of the Lagonda Chapter.

The ceremony will include wreaths dedicated by DAR members for each U.S. military service branch, while members of the Springfield Burying Ground Restoration Committee will place wreaths on the graves of the Revolutionary War participants.

A Marine Corps Color Guard unit will perform a 21-gun salute and “Taps.” Ryhal hopes the public attends to show pride in their community and country.

“We are so glad to be doing something patriotic that can help our country ... It’s my passion to be able to do this,” she said.

The DAR participates in several community activities. For more information, go to lagondachapterdar.org/.

St. Bernard, Newcomers ceremonies to honor hundreds

Betsy Van Hoose had a goal to recognize the many veterans buried at St. Bernard Cemetery and went through a long process to identify and get them recognition beginning in 2021. Last year, she added Newcomers Cemetery, and between the two will recognize nearly 800 veterans, including seven newly-discovered veterans whose graves weren’t marked, since the previous ceremony.

“For the last couple of years we’ve done this, there’s been a real sense of pride, sharing what the wreaths mean and the joy people feel in participating,” said Van Hoose.

The St. Bernard ceremony will begin in the cemetery chapel and take about 20 minutes with Springfield’s Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 620 supporting with POW/MIA wreath placement. A new addition will be a bagpiper who will play “Amazing Grace,” which Van Hoose had wanted since the beginning and said helps bring the whole moment full circle.

Members of the public are invited to help lay the wreaths on the veterans’ graves.

They’ve faced rain and cold temperatures in the first two years and people still show up, which Van Hoose said shows people’s dedication to honoring the veterans.

For more information on the Saint Bernard or Newcomers Cemetery events, contact Van Hoose at eeaton@woh.rr.com.