Good morning, Brothers and Fellow Sojourners - This past Saturday, I was honored to again take part in the annual Wreaths Across America https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org ceremony here in Idaho Springs, Colorado. Wreaths Across America is a national program that calls for holiday wreaths and small American flags to be placed on the graves of veterans at more than 2,100 cemeteries, including Arlington National Cemetery, across the United States as a way of remembering and honoring those heroes during the holiday season and to teach young persons the values of freedom. Some of you may have participated in the ceremony at Fort Logan or other area cemeteries. The program is funded by generous donations from supporters, both individual and corporate.
The program here in Clear Creek County is coordinated by the Clear Creek County Veterans Coalition and is totally volunteer-driven. In past years we have placed wreaths in the five Clear Creek County cemeteries located in Idaho Springs, Mill Creek (Dumont), Empire, Silver Plume and Georgetown Alvarado Cemetery, which is owned by Georgetown Lodge #12, A.F.&A.M. We always have a number of high school students help with placing the wreaths.
This year, as Master of Central Lodge #6, A.F.&A.M. and as a Board Member of the Veterans Coalition, I suggested that we expand our local ceremony to include the Central City Masonic Cemetery, which is jointly owned by Nevada #4, Central #6 and Black Hawk #11. This is one of the very earliest cemeteries in the entire state and is located just off Nevadaville Road above Central City. Brothers buried there include many veterans of the Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Grand Army of the Republic and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Several weeks ago, Brothers Jim Thomas and Troy Erickson and I walked the entire cemetery and identified each of the veteran’s graves, knowing there would likely be snow on the ground on December 19.
On Saturday we began the day with a brief ceremony at the Idaho Springs Elks Club and the hanging of wreaths in honor of each of the military branches as well as the POW-MIA flag. Brother Gene Day, a veteran of the USAF and I then went to the Central City Masonic Cemetery with a couple of boxes of wreaths. When we arrived, the temperature on the truck said it was 24°, but the wind was blowing hard and we estimated with the wind chill it was probably about 0°. And there was about 6”-8” of snow covering everything, including the tombstones. Gene and I set about placing the wreaths, knowing that our short time in the cold, snow and wind was a small sacrifice to make to honor these brave veterans who have laid down their working tools.
About half-way through, Gene looked up and saw two ladies (our Christmas Angels) dragging the second box of wreaths into the cemetery. We went over to them and asked them why they were here on such a cold and blustery day. It was a mother - Pam and her 12th grade daughter Betsy. The mom had seen a PSA on Wreaths Across America on KDVR, Channel 2 and they talked about it and wanted to get involved. They tried to sign up at Fort Logan, but were told they needed a team of 10 persons. They did a little more research and decided to come to Central City and help out. They apologized for being a little late - their GPS had taken them to the cemeteries up at the top of Eureka Street. They helped us locate the remaining graves and to place the wreaths. They truly are Christmas angels and we thank them so much for their help and commitment to veterans.
The whole day was a huge success, in spite of the pandemic and lockdown and cold weather. And the appearance of our two Christmas Angels is something I will never forget. Sure made my Christmas!
If you would like to support the Wreaths Across America by sponsoring a wreath or even a group of veterans, please go to the website https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org
And Brothers - I hope that each of you has a wonderful and happy holiday season and that you and your families are safe, healthy and warm.