WINDSOR -- Over 50 Veterans, family and community members gathered at the cemetery along Illinois Route 32 on Dec. 16 to lay wreaths on the graves of Veterans as part of the Wreaths Across America campaign.
According to a press release, this was the first year for such a program in the community, and was a result of cooperation with American Legion member Joe Hampton, wife Anne, and his daughter, Heather, a 4-H leader in the Nokomis area who had this as a community service project for her 4-H club.
When the truck driver arrived at their stop near Nokomis, he had around 200 extra wreaths on the truck with no place to deliver them to. So, Heather asked her dad and the Legion, along with her nieces’ and nephews’ 4-H club, to help bring this program to them.
Enter the Windsor community. Legion members discussed this opportunity to participate in Wreaths Across America and then quickly put a plan into action. Using social media and making phone calls to the local 4-H club and FFA chapter, the American Legion and Auxiliary members recruited over 50 volunteers in less than 24 hours.
While there were not enough wreaths for all the veterans’ headstones this year, the group didn’t want to miss out on participating in this program.
“This is something we’d like to do next year, and have already had some donations for next year’s supply of wreaths,” said Legion member David Smith.
The mission of Wreaths Across America is to remember fallen U.S. veterans, honor those who serve, and teach children the value of freedom. Each veteran is honored, a wreath is laid on their headstone, and a memorial is read aloud by a volunteer.
The whole process of laying the wreaths and the individual ceremonies at each headstone took about an hour, thanks in part to all the volunteers that showed up and the beautiful weather. After the group of volunteers posed for a photo in front of the Windsor Veterans Memorial, a quick word of thanks was expressed by David Smith and by Missy Hampton. They thanked all the school age kids and their families for coming, the community members, and Legion and Auxiliary members for all their support.
“Without all of you, we wouldn’t have got this all done,” said Hampton.
“And a special thanks to Heather (Knoodle Hampton) for letting our group learn about this project,” added Anne Hampton.
As the volunteers were walking to their cars, a bald eagle was spotted flying over the cemetery. It flew from the row of trees just north of the cemetery, across the middle of the cemetery, then went high into the sky just past the high school (due north of the cemetery). Several school age members from the Windsor FAR 4-H club were present to see, along with their families, and the squeals of joy were contagious!
“That is the perfect way to conclude this wreath ceremony to honor our fallen Veterans. What an amazing sight!” commented 4-H parents.
To make a donation toward next year’s Wreaths Across America, make checks payable to American Legion Post 725 with the notation Wreaths Across America. Donations can be mailed to 600 St. Highway 32, Windsor, IL 61957.
For more information contact www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.