At three Arizona cemeteries, cadets from four Arizona squadrons joined with their fellow Civil Air Patrol members across the country in the Wreaths Across America program on December 17.
Cadets from Squadrons 205 (Verde Valley/Sedona) and 206 (Prescott Metro Area) got together to lay wreaths at the Prescott National Cemetery, where almost 5,000 veterans are buried. The activity, undertaken on a very cold, clear day, was an opportunity for cadets from both squadrons to work together and was designed to remember fallen American veterans, honor those who serve, and teach the value of freedom.
“More than one CAP Airman’s eyes, both cadet and senior, misted up during the ceremonies, and not because of the biting breeze that was blowing,” said Prescott Squadron Public Affairs Officer 2nd Lt. Stephen Echols. “The main speaker, possibly unknowingly, emphasized the concepts that we in CAP take so seriously: Integrity, Service, Excellence and Respect.”
The weather was warmer in Phoenix and Yuma, Ariz., where members of Deer Valley Composite Squadron 302 and Yuma Composite Squadron 508 also took part in the wreath-laying ceremonies. In Phoenix, wreaths were laid at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona, which has more than 58,000 veterans’ graves. In Yuma, participants placed wreaths on more than 3,000 veterans’ graves at private Desert Lawn Memorial Cemetery.
“It is always good when we have an opportunity to show respect for our veterans and the sacrifices they made protecting America,” Cadet Joey Burkhart told the Yuma Daily Sun.
Squadron 302’s Deputy Commander for Cadets, 2nd Lt. Amber O’Donnell, said, “In addition to placing wreaths on the headstones, we made sure to say thank you as we shook the hands of veterans in attendance. Numerous young kids handed out pictures that they drew for the Veterans. SM Don Frye received two.”
After the formal ceremonies were concluded in each location, CAP cadets and senior members joined other members of the community in the actual wreath laying. This noble task was performed in a joyous and celebratory, yet respectful manner by all who gathered on these sacred grounds.
Read an article about activities in Yuma here.
With contributions from 2nd Lts. Amber O’Donnell (302) and Stephen Echols (206).