North Canton Cemetery is local site of national Wreaths Across America event.
PLAIN TWP. On a cold and snowy Saturday afternoon, dozens of volunteers placed wreaths on the graves of veterans buried at North Canton Cemetery and paused to remember their military service.
The Canton Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution organized the local event with Wreaths Across America, a national group that coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies to honor veterans each December.
“It is a way of remembering our veterans,” said Joanne Shirey Malene, regent of the Canton DAR chapter. “We remember them, we honor them and then we’re teaching the younger generation and men and women who are in the service that they’ve not been forgotten.”
Wreaths Across America started in 2007, and grew out of the Worcester Wreath Company’s tradition of placing wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery. The group collects donations for evergreen wreaths that it ships to volunteer groups.
Wreaths Across America and its volunteers laid over 700,000 memorial wreaths at 1,000 locations in 2014, according to the group’s website.
Malene said she and her husband, Sam, regularly visit family in Virginia and learned about Wreaths Across America after seeing the decorated graves at Arlington National Cemetery. She and the local DAR chapter decided to bring the event to Stark County.
More than 60 volunteers fanned out across the cemetery, their boots squeaking on the snow as stray flakes fell from the sky.
Malene asked volunteers to place a wreath, look at the name of the veteran and the dates on the stone, and “think about that veteran and his life and that he served.”
Jordyn Eller, 17, of Plain Township, said she wanted to be part of an event that brought the community together.
Her brother is a veteran, and “what really goes through my mind is thinking of the sacrifice they gave us,” she said. “Being able to reflect on all the things they did for us.”
The cemetery at the corner of Orion Street and Pittsburg Avenue NW was established in 1814, and has the graves of veterans from the American Revolution, Civil War, Spanish-American War, both World Wars, Korea and Vietnam, Malene said.
Jim Wild, of North Canton, and Andy Archer, of Lake Township, both Vietnam War veterans of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, placed wreaths and saluted at the graves of Horace “Fred” Bausher and Pvt. William F. Bausher.
Fred Bausher, who died in 1942, was a veteran of World War I. William, his son, was killed in Germany in 1945 while serving in the infantry, according to the archives of The Canton Repository.
Archer said he couldn’t tell if anyone had recently visited the snow-covered graves, but he and Wild were there, now.
“It’s an opportunity to reflect on what has been given for this country,” Archer said.
“There’s a good chance we wouldn’t be here to reflect without their service,” added Wild.
In addition to placing wreaths at the graves of nearly 180 veterans, volunteers placed around the cemetery’s Civil War memorial seven wreaths honoring those who served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine and American prisoners of war,
Malene said she hoped individuals who see the wreaths remember veterans from the past and the men and women serving today.
“If you don’t have somebody who’s serving in the military today, it’s very easy to forget that we are still involved in conflicts,” she said.
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