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The wreaths were stacked neatly on the Pine Grove Cemetery’s access road, ready for volunteers to trudge through several inches of snow and place them on the tombstones of deceased veterans.
Half a dozen scouts from Troop 195 were on hand to assist while an honor guard stood by and the Westford Academy buglers waited for their cue.
State Rep. James Arciero (D-Westford) addressed the gatherers, noting that this is the 13th anniversary of the Wreaths Across America program, which has spread throughout the nation.
Arciero said the program is designed to help regular citizens remember the veterans’ service to this country, honor them, and teach others about their sacrifices.
“When a volunteer lays a wreath, they learn themelves the importance of military service. This year marks Westford’s seventh annual observation of this new and welcome tradition in our comunity as we gather to recognize our veterans,” Arciero said.
The program had been planned by Robin Pawlowski of Westford, who addressed the crowd with her opening remarks.
“Today we show a united front of national unity all across the United States of America, as we remember the fallen, honor those who serve, and teach our children the value of freedom,” Pawloski said.
Doug Wood, senior vice commander of the Department of Massachusetts Veterans of Foreign Wars also addressed the group of onlookers.
“I thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedules and coming out today to help us remember, honor and teach,” Wood said, outlining the purpose of the program.
It was a pile of leftover wreaths at a cemetery in Maine, Wood said, that led to the national effort. The leftovers were placed on the tombstones of military veterans, and from there the program took off.
Seven ceremonial wreaths were laid by representatives of the United States Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Airforce, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines, prisoners of war and those missing in action.
The ceremony was short but those who attended on Dec. 19, just six days before Christmas, left the Pine Grove Cemetery knowing they had done something far more important than shopping for gifts and wrapping presents.
For more information, visit wreathsacrossamerica.org/ma0049