PARKERSBURG - Honoring all local deceased veterans is the goal of Leavitt Funeral Services involvement in the Wreaths Across America program.
"We are very committed to making sure our veterans and what they have done for each of us is not forgotten," said Jon Leavitt, owner of Leavitt Funeral Services. "By being part of this great program, we not only honor our veterans, but allow the community to honor them as well."
Each wreath is made of live balsam pine and sold for $15 to be placed on a grave of the purchaser's choosing locally or another cemetery across the country.
Photo by Jolene Craig
Jon Leavitt, owner of Leavitt Funeral Homes in Parkersburg and Belpre, poses with a large sign and wreath as the two facilities are participating in Wreaths Across America to put wreaths on the graves of veterans.
Last year Leavitt Funeral Home sponsored more than 300 wreaths in the Mid-Ohio Valley and hopes to sponsor 400 this year.
"We seem to sponsor more and more each year," Leavitt said. "The first year we were involved, about 75 wreaths were placed locally, and we would love to have more than four times that for our fifth year."
In an effort to have more participants this year, both the Parkersburg facility at 403 Seventh St., and Belpre location at 801 Victor St., will hold an open house from 2-4 p.m. Sunday for people to look at a wreath sample and purchase their own.
Wreaths Across America is a nonprofit organization that began placing wreaths on graves at Arlington National Cemetery in 1992 after the Worchester Wreath Co. of Harrington, Maine, had an excess of wreaths near the end of the holiday season, according to the organization. It became a nonprofit in 2007.
The wreaths were so well received by the families of those buried at Arlington National Cemetery and the public that the company quietly continued to provide wreaths each year.
Wreaths Across America expanded to include 230 cemeteries around the world, including all 50 states and 24 national cemeteries on foreign soil.
There will be ceremonies for their wreath-laying in more than 800 locations in the United States as well as offshore locations on Dec. 14, which has been named National Wreaths Across America Day.
At 10 a.m. Dec. 14, Dana Fouss, manager of the Belpre location, will join community members and the Belpre Rotary, of which he is a part, to place a number of the wreaths on the graves of Revolutionary War soldiers and officers in Cedarville Cemetery, Belpre's oldest cemetery.
The cemetery, which is along the bank of the Ohio River, has graves that date between 1791 and 1897 and include some of the earliest settlers of the Belpre area, including Rufus Putnam's granddaughter and Capt. William Dana and his wife, Mary Bancroft Dana.
"We see it as a way to thank those men and their families for helping to give us the home we have," Fouss said.
While the Rotary will be putting wreaths on 10 graves, there were originally 16 Revolutionary War veterans buried in the cemetery, but several were moved throughout the years to keep them from being washed away by flood waters.
Leavitt Funeral Services employees Jackie Cassidy and Deanna Deem will attend the wreath-laying ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery during the Dec. 14 event.
The purchase each wreath goes to help fund veteran and educational outreach programs, according to Wreaths Across America.
This program is all volunteer as far as the cost per wreath, shipping and placing of the wreaths.
Those wanting to be a local sponsor can get wreaths at Leavitt's in Parkersburg and Belpre and place it themselves.
For more information, contact Leavitt's at 304-422-6459 or (740) 423-6326.