La PINE, Ore. - Dignitaries, veterans and townsfolk from the La Pine area gathered on a snowy, cold Saturday morning for the community's first "Wreaths Across America" ceremony, a 750-city event to honor and recognize veterans across the wars and across America.
Wreaths from the city of La Pine, one from and each of the six branches of service were placed on standards at Centennial Park by the "Welcome to La Pine" sign on Highway 97. (A similar event was held Saturday morning in Bend and at numerous locations across the nation.)
An additional wreath was laid at the foot of the city's wreath, to represent our common grief for the loss of 20 young children and seven adults who lost their lives in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday.
State Rep. Gene Whisnant, Deschutes County Commissioner Tony DeBone and Mayor Ken Mulenex spoke after the flag the local NJROTC raised the flag to half-mast.
Event organizer and City Councilman Stu Martinez welcomed the crowd and Pastor Terry O'Casey led the invocation.
After a 21-gun salute from the American Legion Honor Guard and a heartfelt rendition, "Taps" played out across the gathered participants, and the crowd was thanked and dismissed.
The wreaths will be displayed at the park location during the next few weeks until after the holidays.
In 2012, it is projected that over 400,000 wreaths were placed nationwide, by over 150,000 volunteers, as part of the Wreaths Across America mission to Remember, Honor, and Teach.
The Wreaths Across AmericaTM story began over 20 years ago when the Worcester Wreath Company from Harrington, Maine initiated a tradition of donating and placing wreaths on the headstones of our nation's fallen heroes at Arlington National Cemetery. Recognition of the service and sacrifice of our veterans, and their families, is especially poignant during the traditional holiday season.