Wreaths Across America Dedication was held at the Fort Lyon National Cemetery on Dec. 12 at 10 a.m.

Wreaths Across America Dedication was held at the Fort Lyon National Cemetery on Dec. 12 at 10 a.m.

Karen Van Egmond, Wreaths Across America coordinator and aster of ceremonies welcomed the attending crowd. Greg Bullock, a member of the Seed and Supply Church gave the opening prayer. The VFW Post #2411 of Las Animas and American Legion Post #8 guarded the colors. Mardona Moreland sang “God Bless the USA.” The opening speaker, Fernando Vasquez, cemetery technician from Fort Logan, Colorado, was unable to attend due to a winter storm warning on the Front Range.

Bill Long, Bent County Commissioner, was the guest speaker. He began his speech with the history of one of Bent County’s finest who received the Silver Star for gallantry in action, Corporal Frank Bourne. “Corporal Bourne is an exceptional example of the men and women who are buried here at this special place.” He went on to say that the “veteran” not only defends our freedom, but our Constitution, Bill of Rights and added amendments to provide civil rights to all despite where the veteran lived, their religion, or race, “they all stepped forward to defend the United States of America and all it stands for.” He concluded, “As we lay Christmas wreaths upon the graves of the brave men and women who have served our country, we are not only honoring them as American patriots, we are remembering and thanking them for their service.”

Three members of the Las Animas Girl Scout Troop #109, (Grace Gardner, Jesslynn Hogue, and Cora Frausto) sang the national anthem. Karen Van Egmond instructed Daniel Jantz, Martin Gabehart, Billy Foxworth, Jesse Gabehart, Anne Taylor and Guy Pitts to place the evergreen wreaths, trimmed with simple red bows, in memory of those who served and are serving in the United States Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marines at their corresponding banners. Bert Huff then laid a wreath in honor of the more than 83,000 United States servicemen from all branches of the service whose last known status was either prisoners of war (POW) or missing in action (MIA). After the ceremonial wreaths were laid, Greg Bullock gave the closing benediction and the American Legion Post #6 of Las Animas, Post #94 of Ordway and Post #9313 of Fort Lyon honor guard delivered the three volley salute. The dedication concluded with an echo taps by the VFW Post #2411 and American Legion Post #6, both of Las Animas.

Community volunteers of all ages came out and placed wreaths on flag-marked graves. Close to 600 wreaths were placed on veteran graves at Fort Lyon, Las Animas/Bent County, Peaceful Valley (Smith’s), and Hall cemeteries. Photos of the entire service can be found on Wreaths Across America, Fort Lyon National Cemetery Web page.