Lancaster Cemetery observes Wreaths Across America

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United States Marine and long-time valley resident Chris Chandler pauses and reflects at the grave of fellow Marine Mark Ferguson, the first casualty to die in the Vietnam War. Chris is a member and commandant of our local Marine Corps League. (Photograph by Bob Alvis)
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Saturday, Dec. 14 dawned as a cold and windy day in the Antelope Valley.

But at Lancaster Cemetery, a warm glow started early in the morning as volunteers started arriving at daybreak. They were there to prepare the wreaths that would soon cover the more than 1,000 veterans’ graves at the cemetery.

“We are proud and honored to be participating in this national event to pay tribute to our veterans who paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedoms each of us in our Country enjoy,” said Dave Owens, chairman, Board of Trustees for the Lancaster Cemetery. 

Army Veteran Roberto Alvarez who handles Military and Veterans affairs for fifth district supervisor Kathryn Barger, places a wreath in remembrance. Serving from 2010 to 2013 with a tour in the Middle East, he spoke of community and how events like this helped to save his soul upon his return. (Photograph by Bob Alvis)

The Wreaths Across America story began when Worcester Wreath Company (a for-profit commercial business from Harrington, Maine) began a tradition of placing wreaths on the headstones of our Nation’s fallen heroes at Arlington National Cemetery during the holidays. But as word spread, the mission to Remember; Honor; and Teach about the sacrifices made by our veterans has captured the hearts and minds of many communities across the country.

The goal of Wreaths Across America is to recognize the service and sacrifice of our veterans by honoring them with a wreath at their graves during the holidays. 

The volunteers were many and the best way to share this story is with a few faces and what it means to be a part of this spiritual and rewarding program that is always expanding and changing lives as it brings out community together! So take a moment and meet some of those great folks that year after year come out and make a difference remembering.
 

Always present in support the Patriot Guard is a constant reminder that we need to honor and respect those that have come before us. Phil Waln, Dave Corbin and Richard Parra head the Post 311 Legion Riders and are always at their best presenting colors and escorting our honored dead and returning hero’s home. (Photograph by Bob Alvis)

 
Jin Hur and Juan Blanco, two local activists and business owners, get up early every year to make the Wreaths Across America a special program. Giving back in the form of hot coffee and chocolate to keep the volunteers happy, they also understand the meaning of the Wreaths and what it says about our country when the citizens take time to remember those that served on our behalf. (Photograph by Bob Alvis)

 
The local detachment of Sea Cadets, under the leadership of Chief Petty Officer Sean Gaylord, show up and carry on the long tradition of remembering what the words Honor, Duty and Country mean by placing the Wreaths on the graves of the men and women who lived their lives by that creed. (Photograph by Bob Alvis)

 
Local citizen Richard Talamantez takes his involvement with remembering our veterans to a new level; as not only does he show up to man the tables and help with the distribution of the Wreaths, he also shows up twice a month at the cemetery to clean and polish all the military monuments that adorn the Veterans Court of honor. A true patriot and a man of honor. (Photograph by Bob Alvis)

 
Jase Elizondo, 12, of Lancaster, walks to veterans’ graves to place Christmas wreaths at Lancaster Cemetery, Dec. 14. The Antelope Valley Navy Sea Cadet was one of several volunteers who showed up to participate in the Wreaths Across America event. (Photograph by Evelyn Kristo)

 
Festive holiday wreaths adorn United States military veterans grave sites as hundreds of volunteers participated in Wreaths Across America at Lancaster Cemetery in Lancaster, Calif., Dec. 14. The program, sponsored locally by the Friends of the Lancaster Cemetery, began at Arlington National Cemetery to honor fallen veterans during the holiday season, but has since spread throughout the many communities in the country. (Photographs by Evelyn Kristo)

 
Austin Rybal, 6, of Palmdale places a wreath on the tombstone of a military veteran at Lancaster Cemetery in Lancaster, Calif., Dec. 14. Rybal joined his parents along with hundreds of volunteers participating in the Wreaths Across America program at the cemetery. (Photograph by Evelyn Kristo)

 
Blue Star mom, Sylvia Gaxiola, left, gathers a wreath along with hundreds of volunteers who showed up at Lancaster Cemetery in Lancaster, Calif., Dec. 14, to place holiday wreaths on the graves of the nearly 1,000 veterans buried at the cemetery. (Photograph by Evelyn Kristo)

 
Members of the American Legion Patriot Guard Riders form a color line as they salute fallen veterans during a Wreaths Across America program at Lancaster Cemetery in Lancaster, Calif., Dec. 14. The nationwide program, that began at Arlington National Cemetery, recognizes the service and sacrifice of veterans by honoring them with a wreath during the holidays. (Photograph by Evelyn Kristo)

 
Antelope Valley Cemetery District Manager Dayle DeBry, left, and Board of Trustees Chairman, Dave Owens announce the first wreath placement in honor of World War II veteran, LeeRoy Halley during a Wreaths Across America program at Lancaster Cemetery in Lancaster, Calif., Dec. 14. The nationwide program that began at Arlington National Cemetery recognizes the service and sacrifice of veterans by honoring them with a wreath during the holidays. (Photograph by Evelyn Kristo)

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