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Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014

Veterans will be honored

Sunday, December 10, 2006

BLOOMFIELD -- The Missouri State Veterans Cemetery at Bloomfield will participate in a nationwide memorial event Thursday.

At 11 a.m., a Wreaths Across America ceremony will take place at the cemetery.

"It will be a memorial ceremony in honor of all veterans," said Ken G. Swearengin, director of the Missouri State Veterans Cemetery at Bloomfield. "It's going to take place at the same time at all national and state veteran cemeteries in the United States."

The Wreaths Across America program was initiated by the Civil Air Patrol, according to Swearengin.

"It's actually a program that has been going on for several years," Swearengin said. "The VA decided they would like to participate at all national and state veterans cemeteries."

Swearengin said they intend to establish this ceremony as an annual event.

"This stems from the wreath laying ceremony at the Arlington National Cemetery," said Randy Dunn of Oak Ridge, the Southeast Missouri ride captain for the Patriot Guard Riders. "They've been doing that for like 15 years."

Dunn said the ceremony at Arlington had been so well received that people began requesting similar services at other veterans cemeteries around the country.

"So they decided to reach out across America," Dunn said.

As the program was expanded to include all 50 states and Puerto Rico, "the Civil Air Patrol was unable to cover all the national and state cemeteries across the country so they reached out to other groups," Dunn said.

The Patriot Guard Riders, a motorcycle group which as been providing escorts and security during military funeral services, was asked to coordinate the ceremony in Bloomfield as well as at other veterans cemeteries.

"We're able to fill in many of the holes," Dunn said.

"They do a lot of veterans programs," Swearengin said. "They are a pretty nice group."

Dunn said he was contacted by Bill Richart, the state captain for the Patriot Guard Riders, and asked to coordinate the ceremony at the Missouri State Veterans Cemetery in Bloomfield and serve as master of ceremonies.

The wreaths will be sent to Dunn who hopes to gather about a dozen riders from his local group to escort wreaths to Bloomfield and then serve as an honor guard.

The ceremony will begin with a moment of silence to remember the fallen, prisoners of war, those missing in action and to honor those who have served in the past or are currently serving in our nation's armed forces.

"Everyone who is participating in this will have the moment of silence together," Dunn said.

"It's going to happen all across the nation at the same time, even in Hawaii," Swearengin said.

The moment of silence will then be followed by the posting of colors and some brief remarks leading up to the placement of holiday wreaths.

"They will lay a wreath on a member of each branch of services's headstone -- Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard -- and a sixth wreath in honor of all veteran POW/MIAs," Swearengin said.

Swearengin will then offer closing remarks to end the ceremony.

Several local legislators are slated to attend along with Lt. Col. Robert Jones of the 1140th Engineer Battalion in Cape Girardeau.

"I would just like to invite the public out to come and observe and assist the individuals who are providing the program," Swearengin said. "I think it will be a worthy and honorable thing to do."