In December, SaddleBrooke Ranch residents participated in laying Christmas wreaths on veterans’ graves at Evergreen Cemetery in Tucson. The annual event to honor veterans was held on Saturday morning, Dec. 18.
The morning was sunny and clear but with a crispness in the air. Enjoying some coffee and donuts and fellowship, close to 40 volunteers across Tucson gathered for the ceremony and laying of the wreaths. Seven of these volunteers were from SaddleBrooke Ranch: Linda Thomson, Stephanie Hendricks, Linda Nicholson, Linda Inhelder, Ed Kupcis, and former residents Kay Lantow and Chuck Robbins.
Prior to the ceremony, volunteers were able to view the Memorial on Wheels, which was provided by Richard Lopez. The ceremony began with the posting of the colors by the Sons of the American Revolution in period dress. Following her greeting to the volunteers, Sheron Jones, president of the Tucson Gold Star Mothers, introduced the featured speakers, MSGT. Jesse Rivas, U.S. Air Force, and Retired Command Sergeant Major Michael Bartelle. Each of these veterans gave a touching speech about our freedoms and the price of those freedoms paid by our veterans. Following retirement of the colors and playing of “Taps,” the volunteers dispersed to lay wreaths. Taking one wreath at a time, the volunteers each stopped a moment to say the veteran’s name and offer gratitude for their sacrifice as they laid the wreath on the grave.
Wreaths Across America was organized by the Worcester Wreath company of Harrington, Maine. In 1992, the Worcesters placed their wreaths at Arlington Cemetery. By 2020, with the help of volunteers and corporations, over 1.7 million wreaths were donated and placed at 2,557 participating locations.
In 2010, Sheron began promoting Wreaths Across America in coordination with Evergreen Cemetery. Sheron lost her son in Iraq in 2006. She has channeled her grief into a tireless effort to raise funds for Christmas wreaths for veterans’ graves.
After meeting Sheron in 2014, Kay Lantow and Linda Nicholson coordinated the fundraising effort together at SaddleBrooke Ranch, until 2020 when Kay moved to Oro Valley. This year, Linda welcomed Becky Call to the fundraising team.
For the last eight years, SaddleBrooke Ranch residents have significantly contributed to the growth of this program. In 2021, through the patriotism and generosity of our community, $3,850 was raised through donations and the purchase of raffle tickets.
Thank you to Sheron for her many hours in support of Wreaths Across America, as well as our many and generous Ranch residents who support this program and volunteer to lay wreaths at any veterans cemetery. We also want to thank Roy Thompson, chairman of the SaddleBrooke Ranch Veterans Club, and its members for inviting us and Sheron to speak at their October meeting. We applaud their efforts to begin the Wreaths Across America program at the San Manuel Veterans Cemetery.