Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
Thousands of people needed just 44 minutes to place more than 8,100 wreaths on every grave and along the columbarium wall last Saturday morning at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery as part of the national Wreaths Across America event to honor and remember those who have served our country.
Many of them were there to remember family members or friends, while others just wanted to pay their respects to total strangers and ensure that their service and sacrifices don’t go unremembered.
“Lying before us and in cemeteries across the nation are men and women who gave their lives so we can live in freedom and without fear,” Nevada Veterans Coalition public information officer Rich Crombie said. “We can raise our children to believe as we do, and we are free to vote for leaders of our choosing and we have the right to succeed and the right to fail in whatever endeavor we wish to pursuit.”
The concept of Wreaths Across America is different than Memorial Day, which is observed on the last Monday of May. Initially, the first Memorial Day was conducted in 1868 to remember the fallen soldiers from the American Civil War but over time to include veterans who died while serving their country. According to Wreath Across America, the third Saturday in December is set aside to remember the deceased veterans with the sights and sounds of the holiday season.
“We’re here to teach the next generation the value of freedom,” Crombie added.
During the Fernley ceremony, representatives for specific military services along with a Sea Cadet from Fallon placed a wreath at a flag associated with that specific branch of the armed forces. Seven cadets from Fallon assisted with the ceremony and also helped afterward by placing wreaths on the individual gravesites. The seven cadets who are in their early teens recognize the importance of their involvement with remembering veterans.
Following those ceremonial remembrances, family members with loved ones were given the chance to collect their wreaths and make their way through the cemetery, before the rest of the crowd was invited to grab a wreath to place it on a grave of their choosing.
Deanna Henderson and Sharon Revels of Fallon came to place a wreath on the grave of John Henderson, Deanna’s husband and Sharon’s father.
Deanna and John met in the 1950s at Joint Forces Training Base, Los Alamitos, near Long Beach. He later went overseas on the USS Princeton as a U.S. Navy aviation ordnance officer. They moved to Nevada in 1986.
Revels and Deanna Henderson said they visit the cemetery for every Memorial Day and Wreaths Across America event, and several times a year in between.
“My dad signed up to be buried here when they opened,” Revels said. “Everyone that’s buried here would be proud to be here, and be tickled pink about all the wreaths and the flags.”
The Fernley High School cheer and dance squads were among the volunteers helping open the boxes of wreaths and hand them out.
“We just wanted to pay our respects and show how we can be a part of it,” said dance team member Velei Hale. “It’s a great honor, honestly, to pay respects and help families do that as well, and just being here to help our community.”