Medina sees growing participation for Wreaths Across America

Photos by Ginny Kropf: These wreaths were placed on graves in the veterans’ section of Boxwood Cemetery during today’s Wreaths Across American program.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 19 December 2020 at 10:47 pm

MEDINA – There was no mistaking Kathy Blackburn’s delight at the turnout in Boxwood Cemetery Saturday noon for the Wreaths Across America program.

Blackburn has been organizing the event each year since it was started in Medina with seven wreaths in 2013, and this year’s count was 261.

“I can’t tell you how pleased I am,” Blackburn said. “I’m amazed at the people who joined in and got their kids involved. I could cry now.”

Kathy Blackburn, who organized the Wreaths Across American program in Boxwood Cemetery, and Jim Freas stand in front of the seven volunteers who laid the first wreaths, paying tribute to a veteran from each branch of the military and MIAs and POWs.

Blackburn thanked the American Legion, VFW and volunteers who supported the effort, especially the many Scout troops which showed up to place the wreaths on graves.

Several local officials took part in the ceremony, including Medina Mayor Mike Sidari and Assemblyman Steve Hawley. Each of them placed one of the first seven wreaths, which were in honor of a veteran from each branch of the military and a grave representing a POW/MIA.

Dave Kusmierczak read an opening prayer. He said the freedoms we enjoy today did not come without a price.

“The men and women here died so we could enjoy our freedoms,” he said.

Blackburn followed with words of thanks and patriotism.

“We are here today to say ‘thank you,’” she said. “When you see a veteran or member of the Armed Forces, say thank you.”

After the Honor Guard issued a three-gun salute and playing of Taps, volunteers began placing the remaining wreaths on graves throughout the cemetery.

The first of seven wreaths is placed on the grave of a veteran at the beginning of the Wreaths Across America program Saturday in Boxwood Cemetery.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley places a wreath on a veteran’s grave, something he volunteers for every year.

Dave Kusmierczak stands at left waiting to give an opening prayer at the Wreaths Across America program in Boxwood Cemetery. The firing squad stands ready as Kathy Blackburn gives a patriotic reading.

Volunteers, which included many Scout troops, take wreaths out of the boxes to place on graves. Donations cover the cost of the wreaths at $15 each.

Three members of the Honor Guard who participated in the Wreaths Across American program Saturday in Boxwood Cemetery are, from left, Norm Slayer, Greg Stanton and Randolph Wells. The other members are Vic Vicknair, Steve Johnson, David Higgins, Larry Szatkowski, Glenn Whitmore, Eric Delano, John Pera and Dan Anderson.