Civilians, veterans lay wreaths on nearly 2,000 veteran graves

By Michael d’Oliveira |

Pompano Beach – Claudia Perry didn’t get as many wreaths as she hoped, but she feels “blessed” to get as many as she did.

Perry, organizer of the annual Wreaths Across America event at Forest Lawn North, said about 1,100 of the 2,000 graves at the cemetery were decorated with wreaths on Dec. 19, part of the nationwide Wreaths Across America events – a wreath is placed on the grave of a veteran in honor of their service and to ensure they are not forgotten.

During the ceremony, Gregory Cherven, a veteran and pastor at Calvary Church’s military ministry, touched upon why that service was rendered.

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him,” said Cherven, quoting British writer G.K. Chesterton.

John S. Bridgman of Honor Flight South Florida commended all the individuals and organizations in attendance that also honor and help veterans while they’re still alive, especially during COVID-19.

“We’ll get through this and over this,” said Bridgman.

At the Wreaths Across America ceremony at Pompano Beach Cemetery, held the same day, COVID-19 resulted in a much shorter ceremony, but the volunteers who showed up made sure the mission of decorating every veteran grave was accomplished.

And considering the pandemic and the lack of advertising beforehand, Pam Smith-Gondek, past honorary regent of the Lighthouse Point Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution [DAR], was surprised so many showed up to put wreaths on all 764 veteran graves.

“We’re very excited with the turnout,” she said. “We really weren’t expecting the numbers we had.”

DAR member Sherrill Disbury laid wreaths in honor of every veteran, including her late father, James Logan Wilkins, a pilot who flew B-29’s for the Army Air Force in Italy during World War II.

“It’s just a great way to honor them,” she said.

  • Sherrill Disbury, member of the Lighthouse Point Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, ties a wreath to one of the veteran graves at Pompano Beach Cemetery on Dec. 19. [Staff]

  • The honor guard and bag piper during the Wreaths Across America ceremony at Forest Lawn North. [Staff]

  • Trish O’Connor, member of the Lighthouse Point Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and her son, William. [Staff]

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