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Wreaths Across America Sees Success Once Again
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The sound of the bagpipes filled the Oakdale Citizens Cemetery on Saturday, Dec. 16 to mark both the start as well as the conclusion of the annual Wreaths Across America Ceremony. Teresa Hammond/The Leader

It was an event not to be missed as a couple hundred community members gathered on Saturday, Dec. 16 to participate at Wreaths Across America.

The event is hosted locally on the third Saturday of each December at Oakdale Citizens Cemetery, as well as at 4100 locations across the nation.

A proper ceremony circling the flag pole with former Mayor JR McCarty serving as Master of Ceremonies began at 9 a.m.

“Today more than ever we reflect on our nation’s veterans and active-duty service members who have and continue to fight to protect the innocent and the oppressed,” McCarty said. “This nation has always been the first to stand up for people for freedom around the world. Many of you here today have answered that call and have served your country well; for this we say thank you and we are honored to know you.”

As is customary, a ceremonial laying of the wreaths for all armed services as well as the US Space Force, fallen soldiers and first responders was part of the ceremony, as chosen community members placed and saluted each representative wreath.

Following the ceremony, a total of over 900 wreaths were laid, one at each gravesite of the veterans interred at the cemetery.

McCarty went off script at the conclusion of the event to give special mention to persons in attendance. He also gave special recognition to event organizer Melinda Owen, summoning her to the front of the crowd for proper acknowledgment.

“This is all possible because of this young lady right here,” McCarty said. “She works tirelessly through the year to make this happen. She is one who doesn’t want to be recognized. She wants to work behind the scenes and I just personally want to say thank you and I think we all want to say thank you.”

Owen, in turn, thanked the group at large.

“Yes, it takes organization, but unless our community stepped up and sponsored the wreaths for our veterans and helped with all of these things this wouldn’t happen,” Owen noted. “This is important for our community, it’s important for our cemetery and it’s important to our country.”

The event organizer offered a special thanks to the OHS basketball coaches for bringing their teams to help with the event on Saturday.

“Thank you all very much,” Owen concluded. “JR, thank you, and God Bless America.”

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Troop 365 Bear, Grayden Wells, 9, stayed busy placing wreaths on the gravesites of veterans during the Dec. 16 Wreaths Across America Ceremony at the Oakdale Citizens Cemetery. Teresa Hammond/The Leader
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Oakdale Citizens Cemetery spokesperson, Melinda Owen, was called up for acknowledgment of her hard work at the conclusion of the Wreaths Across America ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 16. Teresa Hammond/The Leader