Posted: Dec 15, 2012 5:46 PM by Laura Wilson - KAJ News
Updated: Dec 15, 2012 9:16 PM
KALISPELL - The community came out Saturday honor their Montana veterans, as part of a national movement that's quickly gaining local momentum.
The idea to place wreaths at veterans' grave sites each Christmas season began nearly 15 years ago at Arlington National Cemetery in Fort Myer, Virginia.
Wreaths Across America Day is now celebrated at more than 750 locations, which, as of 2011, includes Kalispell.
Dale Rodwick with the Flathead Composite Squad said was with the group that decided to bring the tradition to Kalispel.
"We didn't start researching it until the second week of October, and so we hit it really hard last year during a short period of time," he said.
This year, volunteers were able to lay down even more wreaths, about 650 in all, on graves inside the Glacier Gardens Memorial Cemetery.
Robin White said it's helped commemorate the sacrifices made by her father.
"He was a veteran of World War II," White said. "He was very proud of what he did and we were always very proud of him. We just came up to see if he had a wreath on his grave, because we knew how proud he was to serve his country.
Another seven wreaths were placed in Depot Park Saturday to honor the soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen who have fought for our freedom.
Rodwick said it was a good ceremony. "Last year was great too, but this one was out in the public where everyone can see. There may not be 200 people standing here, but there are a lot of people driving by and they wonder what's going on."
Rodwick is optimistic that as this tradition grows in the coming years, so will community donations.
"We're hoping to get more creative so we don't have to stand out and do boot drives out in the middle of the cold winter. We're hoping to get some more fundraising ideas for this particular one, and the parent company is working with us on that, too. So, there will be something different next year."
Click here to learn more about Wreaths Across America.