Wreaths Across America Ceremony Dec. 16 as Nearly 1,300 Wreaths are Placed on Veteran Gravesites

By Julie Perine on December 06, 2017 via

As soon as the 2016 Wreaths Across America ceremony was over, Christa Parker began planning for this year’s event. The first day during which wreaths could be purchased and donated, she hit the ground running, promoting the program which places holiday-time wreaths on the gravesite of all U.S. service men and women. Last year was the first year for Bridgeport Cemetery’s participation as 1,086 wreaths were placed, all purchased by community and family members. Parker’s goal was to get enough wreaths purchased to place one on each of the 1,575 veteran gravesites.
The campaign has ended and the unofficial count is 1,282, said Parker, adding that the Bridgeport community never disappoints.
On Saturday, Dec. 16 – beginning at 12 noon sharp – the ceremony will take place, beginning with a blessing of the wreaths by Rev. Robin Ray and singing of The National Anthem by Emma Guthall. Serving as emcee will be Brad Ford and playing Taps will be Bridgeport High School Drum Major Joplin Kehrer. Though not confirmed, it is likely that the Honor Guard will also take part in the service. The highlight, of course, is the laying of wreaths on the military gravesites.
“All grave specific names will be called off and a soldier will present the family with a wreath for them to lay on their veterans’ grave,” Parker said.
Family Readiness Group will provide coffee, hot chocolate and snacks for a donation to their organization. Team Bridgeport’s traveling Veteran Tree and Soldier Chest – promotional tools used throughout the year – will be set up at the ceremony, which will take place at the second round of the cemetery, near the top of the hill.
In addition to marking their calendars for the Dec. 16 ceremony, community members can help facilitate the event by placing survey flags on the veterans’ graves to help Team Bridgeport volunteers know where to place wreaths. That work will take place Tues., Dec. 12. Anyone wishing to help can meet at the office of Bridgeport Cemetery at 1 p.m.  
“That’s the plan because of the weather. Snow is being called and we need to get the flags down before the snow covers all the markers,” Parker said.
A former resident of Bridgeport, Parker and her family launched Team Bridgeport and established the Wreaths Across America program at Bridgeport Cemetery following the death of her son, Private First Class Garrett Craig Parker, a Bridgeport High School graduate, who died in a 2014 Memorial Day weekend motorcycle out of state and was buried at Bridgeport Cemetery.
Last year’s ceremony confirmed that Parker had done the right thing by bringing the program to Bridgeport.
“Watching the kids place the wreaths and the look in their eyes, one could tell that this act of love had a special meaning and that they knew the true reason as to why they were there,” she said.
Wreaths Across America takes place in more than 1,200 locations across the U.S., including the West Virginia National Cemetery in Grafton, where Parker was involved in 2015 before bringing the program to Bridgeport. 

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