Saturday, December 10, 2011

Wreaths Across America 2011

The second Saturday in December every year volunteers turn out to lay wreaths on headstones of our veterans in national cemeteries. Over 1,100 volunteers turned out on this beautiful sunny day in San Diego to lay wreaths at Fort Rosecrans and Miramar cemeteries. Fort Rosecrans has veterans from the time of the Mexican American war, 101,000 graves in all. Miramar opened just last year after Fort Rosecrans ran out of space, and prime real estate it is, overlooking San Diego on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other.

This year I didn't get many pictures since the growing-up-too-fast grandgirls and I were working most of the time signing in volunteers. Not an easy task as the list was not alphabetized! The photo shots would have been much like last year's Wreaths 2010, except that we had one of those envy of the country sunny San Diego days from the start.

Last year we laid wreaths in the area around the ceremony site, but this year all 1100 volunteers walked a half mile to the far end for our section. If it weren't that the way was through a cemetery I thought this could be a good workout route. Not only was the view spectacular, it was inspiring to be part of this cross section of San Diego come to pay tribute and who included Scouts, high school service groups, college students, employee groups, Blue Star mothers, at least two sheriff deputies, Children, Sons, and Daughters of the American Revolution, families, veterans, and active duty military among them.

Hayley, Jennifer, and I took our wreaths to lay, and when they were finished I asked who were their veterans. One of Hayley's was a female World War II veteran and we assumed she must have been a nurse. When we pulled back the wreath to check her branch of service - a surprise! She was a spy! Betty E Schneider. Born 1921, so she would have been only 20 years old when the US joined the war. We imagined she must have been German speaking. We tried looking her up on Google. Nothing. What a story she must have!

Next December, wherever you are, take time on the second Saturday of the month, lay a wreath on a veteran's grave. Take your children, or children, take your parents. Take your friends. Leave your cell phone, iPod, iPad and the rest at home.

As this Freedom Rider's jacket reminds us, we should stand for those who stood for US.


JoAnn LaGasse said...

I was delayed leaving the ceremony area and was afraid that I wouldn't get a chance to lay a wreath on the grave of a veteran. When I passed by the Administration Building a woman asked if I would like to lay a wreath on a grave near the flagpole so I spent a few minutes at the gravesite of Walter J. Cline, Lt, US Navy, WWII. Then I walked on down to visit my Dad's grave which was closer to the ocean than the sections planned to receive wreaths. I was delighted to see that someone had placed a wreath on his headstone and the knowledge that someone else besides me had remembered his service really warmed my heart. Never forget. -JoAnn LaGasse

Katharine said...

JoAnne, I wondered whether you all might get down to the wreath area, but it worked out well for you.

A little detective work found that our Betty Schneider was not a spy, but that SPY2 is a Navy rank for SPECIALIST (CONTROL TOWER OPERATOR) PETTY OFFICER 2ND CLASS.

I think I'll let Hayley still believe her lady veteran was a spy. It makes for a better story to her friends.

Pat said...

Very nice, Kath!