CEDAR CITY — Approximately 1,270 evergreen wreaths were placed on the graves of military veterans at Cedar City Cemetery on Saturday afternoon, as part of the annual “Wreaths Across America” observance.

Volunteers prepare to place wreaths on veterans’ graves following “Wreaths Across America” ceremony, Cedar City, Utah, Dec. 16, 2023 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

“Right now, across the country, at more than 4,000 memorial sites like this one, there are millions of Americans gathering as one nation to remember, honor and teach the values of sacrifice and service,” said Cedar City Council member and Wreaths Across America local board chair R. Scott Phillips as he welcomed the hundreds in attendance.

“We are all proud to be Americans living in a free society, made up of many people from many walks of life,” Phillips added. “Their freedoms we enjoy today have not come without a price. Lying here before and around us and in cemeteries throughout the nation, there are men and women who gave their lives so that we could live in freedom and without fear.”

During his brief remarks Cedar City Mayor Garth O. Green said, “The United States of America was founded on the ideals of freedom and justice and equality. Our nation stands as a shining beacon of liberty and freedom to the world. We thank those who serve and those who gave their lives to keep us free. We shall not forget. We shall remember.”

Green called the event a way of showing a “united front of gratitude and respect” across the country.

“We must ensure that future generations learn from today and never forget,” Green added. 

Marsden Zinda carries U.S. Air Force wreath during “Wreaths Across America” ceremony, Cedar City, Utah, Dec. 16, 2023 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Following an explanation of the symbolism and significance of the evergreen wreath by retired U.S. Marine and current SUU Police officer David Bulloch, ceremonial wreaths representing each of the branches of the Armed Forces were brought forward and put on display stands, each one followed by a solemn salute. The eighth and final wreath bore the black POW-MIA insignia, 

Other highlights of the 45-minute program included the following:

“A Soldier’s Tribute,” a poem patterned after “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” was read aloud by Kaden McBride.
Kristin and Andrew Briggs sang “The Prayer,” along with a rendition of “God Bless America.”
Cold War Victory medals were presented to Richard Schmitt and Melvin Basford by Harold Frazer of Iron County Veterans Coalition.
Quilts of valor were presented to Jeff and Mary Pasemiak by Crystal Farinella.
SUU Aviation pilots conducted a “missing man” helicopter flyover at the beginning of the event. 
The conclusion of the ceremony was marked by a 21-gun rifle volley and the playing of “Taps” by members of Iron County Veterans Coalition.

After the ceremony ended, the crowd then dispersed throughout the cemetery, carrying the wreaths from their flatbed trailers to the various grave sites that had been marked with U.S. flags beforehand.

On behalf of the Wreaths Across America Cedar City Board, Phillips thanked those in attendance for their participation and support, including the “hundreds of donors, volunteers and friends who helped make this day possible.”

“We are humbled that you would spend time with us and join us here in this cemetery,” he said.

For more information or to sponsor a local wreath, visit the Wreaths Across America website

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