For an eighth year, Fort Scott National Cemetery participated in a nation-wide effort to place wreaths at the gravestones in each of the national cemeteries in the United States through the Wreaths Across America effort.
“This means a lot to me that you came out to support this mission,” said Kevin Wagner, who helped organize the event Saturday and fundraisers throughout the year.
The motto and goal of the program is to “Remember, Honor, Teach.” Keynote speaker Brett Houk, a retired major and part of the United States Air Force reserves, said it is important to pass that tradition on to the next generation.
“The importance of days like this cannot be overemphasized,” Houk said. “If we don’t remember, honor and teach, we’re destined to make the same mistakes that other countries have made throughout history.”
Houk reminded his audience that the freedoms enjoyed in the United States came at a very high price, paid by soldiers and fellow Americans over the years, and it is up to Americans today to continue to defend those rights.
A large number of Fort Scott residents as well as visitors from out of town and state came to place wreaths on about half the gravestones located at the cemetery after the ceremony, with some taking time to read the names of those buried there.
“This is so much larger than last year,” said Dav Mohler, who gave the invocation and benediction during the ceremony.
In 2014, about 800 wreaths were placed at the cemetery. But this year, after success in fundraising such as through the Wreath Ride in August, 2,581 wreaths were purchased through individual and corporate donations.
Those wreaths were escorted to Fort Scott National Cemetery by about 50 motorcyclists who rode with the semi-truck from Missouri. The ceremony also included the pledge of allegiance led by Cub Scout Pack 95 of Anderson, Mo., a rifle volley from Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1165, TAPS played by Steve Harry and the recognition of two gold star families.