CLINTON — Joining the nationwide observance, National Wreaths Across America Day was held in the Village of Clinton’s Old Burial Ground Cemetery on Saturday, Dec. 14 in remembrance of its 49 honored dead.
The Oneida Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and members of the American Legion Helmuth-Ingalls Post 232 came together to pay tribute to those Clintonians who served in the American Revolution, the War of 1812 and Civil War.
Commissioned Lay Pastor Scott Leonard of the Stone Presbyterian Church opened with an invocation for the crowd who’d gathered.
“It is appropriate as we join others across this great land today with this wreath laying ceremony we commemorate in this historic cemetery, filled with those forgotten with the passage of time, the sacrifices made allowing us to be here today.”
Since 1992 when Morrill Worcester, owner of the Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine decided to lay wreaths on the graves of heroes in Arlington National Cemetery, people across the nation have followed suit in countless communities.
In 2018 over 1,600 cemeteries in the United States and foreign countries participated in laying more than two million wreaths at the graves of fallen veterans.
Suzanne Bellinger, regent of the Oneida Chapter of the DAR, explained the symbolism of the wreaths and how they honor these American heroes of the past.
“The wreaths are gifts of appreciation from grateful Americans,” Bellinger said. “ The evergreen of the wreath symbolizes endurance, the red bow, great sacrifice and the circular shape, eternal life.”
Seven ceremonial wreaths were placed before the cemetery’s flag by the American Legion Helmuth- Ingalls Post 232 members as tribute to the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force. Also, the U.S. Coast Guard, Merchant Marines and POW/MIA.
Former Commander and Post 232 representative, John Nolan said it was not just their personal responsibility to take part in this ceremony, but their military obligation.
“It’s our honor and our duty to represent the deceased members of the armed forces,” Nolan said. “ Also to stand in remembrance of those who’ve sacrificed so much for our country.”
Village of Clinton historian, Dick Williams, addressed the crowd pointing out monuments and resting places on what he described as “hallowed ground” for those who built this community and served to defend this nation.
Each veteran, who could be identified, had his name spoken aloud in an effort to never forget. Veteran’s like American Revolutionary War Captain, Moses Foote, who settled the Village of Clinton in 1787 and Barnabas Pond, who under General George Washington served in the Continental Army, just one of the 12,000 men entrenched in a frozen Valley Forge, PA. during the winter of 1777.
Mayor Steven J. Bellona closed the ceremony with words befitting such a tribute.
“It’s a privilege to be here today to honor those who rest here,” Bellona said. “Who bravely stood the line during those dark days of the Revolution. And who, afterwards, came to this place, the Mohawk Valley, to build a life, to raise a family and create this village that today is Clinton. Thank you for your unswerving courage, your service to your country and to your community. Semper Paratus.”
DAR members passed wreaths to the crowd who in turn placed them at the foot of those graves bearing the veterans flag. They also said their names allowed as it was deemed that haven’t been spoken in many years.
The DAR wishes to express its gratitude to Town of Kirkland Highway Superintendant Jon Scott and his department for the materials needed to clean the years of dirt and sediment from the resting place markers. Also, to all those Clinton business’s and supporters who made this event possible.
The DAR asks for the community’s help in its mission to spread the credo of the Wreaths Across America effort: Remember, Honor, Teach.
Learn more about Wreaths Across America on its website https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/, or contact the DAR,Oneida Chapter, at https://www.oneidachapterdar.org/.