Hundreds of Holiday Wreaths Honor Veterans

By Mark Geary, Reporter

IOWA CITY – All across America today, people placed holiday wreaths on the graves of veterans. The tradition started nearly two decades ago at Arlington National Cemetery.

It's a simple tribute to America's veterans, highlighting the role they played to protect and preserve the freedoms so many people take for granted.

Now, the concept has spread to cemeteries nationwide, including Iowa City's Oakland Cemetery. Saturday morning, volunteers placed 450 wreaths on the graves of veterans who are buried there.

"Without us as a witness, they just disappear. We're going to keep their memory alive and make them immortal," organizer Mike Tyson said.

Wreaths Across America ultimately aims to place a holiday wreath on veterans' graves all across the nation and to also honor current and retired members of the military.

"We may not like what's going on with the war, but we need to support our troops that are overseas," organizer Le Ann Tyson said.

Family members, current, former and future members of the military participated in Oakland Cemetery's ceremony.

"It's a good chance for us to give back to all those old veterans who went before us," Sergeant Romeo Chavez said.

Recruit Brandon Frantz said, "The pride and the glory of it is just amazing. These guys are my brothers. I will go into battle for them and do anything for them."

Pride seemed to outshine everything else at event, but everyone knows pride comes with great sacrifices.

"The price of freedom is blood. Freedom is not something that is given. It's something that is earned. It's something that is protected. It's a gift," Mike Tyson said.

Donors pay for all of the wreaths. Each one costs about fifteen dollars. The local chapter of Wreaths Across America is already planning for next year's ceremony.

For more information, call Le Ann Tyson at 319.430.1187 or email her at LeAnnTyson@msn.com

More information is also available at www.wreathsacrossamerica.com.

E-mail Mark Geary at Mark.Geary@kcrg.com or follow him on Twitter.
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