Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Everlasting gratitude: Wreaths across Windham for Veterans who gave all - By Michelle Libby

With a light covering of snow, volunteers from scout and veterans organizations joined together to lay wreaths at every grave of Windham’s veterans. Scouts from Boy Scout troop 805 canvassed Arlington Cemetery next to the North Windham Fire Station, searching for placards, bronze stars or other items that denoted a veteran was laid to rest there. Each wreath with a red, white and blue bow was placed against the stone or flag holder. Boy Scout troop 51 worked at Chase Cemetery and Girl Scout troops worked at Smith and Mayberry Cemeteries. 

Libby Sawyer, owner of Studio Flora, had the idea to put wreaths on all of the veterans’ graves in Windham for the holiday season, an idea she based on the Wreaths Across America program that sends wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery to adorn those graves. What she didn’t realize was that there were over 600 veterans whose graves were scattered all over Windham. 

“We wanted to give back to all the people who have given to us,” Sawyer said. “I met with Anne Jordan and became overwhelmed with the numbers.”

Sawyer contacted Roger Timmons from the veteran’s organization in Windham to see if he could help. Dave Tanguay from the America Legion Post 148 took over and organized groups of Boy and Girl Scouts to place the wreaths at each of the larger cemeteries in Windham with help from veterans. It was a massive project, Tanguay said. 

“There are 30 cemeteries in Windham, 24 have veterans in them,” Tanguay said. He said that some are far off the road or might have only one or two veterans. Those are being placed by himself or another veteran. “Even the remote sites, we’ll still visit them,” he said. 

“Everyone should feel good about doing things in the community,” said Sawyer. “It’s 100 percent American. We want to make sure the next generation is understanding what these people gave,” she said. 

The project is expected to cost approximately $3,000, of which they have raised about $1,000, including a $500 check from the Windham Police Department. To donate or for information call 650-7484 or make checks out to American Legion Post 148.

Sawyer hopes to make this an annual event and expand to Raymond as well.


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