SALEM - The Salem Memorial & Patriotic Association will hold a wreath laying ceremony at 11 a.m. Saturday on the Village Green at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and State Street to pay homage to veterans.
"We felt it was appropriate to do this in remembrance of those people who have given their lives for our country," Patriotic Events Chairman Sam McKinney said.
The first-ever wreath laying event at the veterans memorial will coincide with Wreaths Across America Day, when the annual Wreaths Across America convoy reaches its final destination, Arlington National Cemetery, from its starting point in the state of Maine.
The wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery began in December 1992 when Maine businessman Morrill Worcester had a surplus of wreaths made with live greenery for the holidays and decided to honor deceased veterans.
The sight of row after row of simple white headstones evokes enough emotion on its own at Arlington. The green wreaths adorned with red bows laying against those headstones evoke even more emotion.
Wreaths Across America is now a nonprofit organization which has expanded the wreath laying ceremony beyond the borders of Arlington National Cemetery to locations across the country.
The event in Salem will feature a prayer and the AMVETS Post 45 Honor Guard to escort the wreath, which Mayor John Berlin is scheduled to place. The public is invited to attend.
"We need to support patriotism and those events that remind us to gratefully remember the sacrifice that has been paid by the veterans of our country," McKinney said.
The Salem Memorial & Patriotic Association plans the annual Salem Memorial Day parade and ceremony and previously sponsored the Fourth of July fireworks until the event became too cost prohibitive for the association.
"People need to be reminded for the freedoms we enjoy today, freedom is not free. The sacrifice has been paid by our veterans. We take it for granted," he said.
McKinney said they're hoping to be able to continue the wreath laying ceremony in the future and perhaps decorate the graves of veterans who have died.
To learn more about Wreaths Across America, visit the group's website at www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.
Mary Ann Greier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org