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Ceremony honors deceased vets with wreaths



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USAF vets Hans & Karen Brueggeman place a wreath on the cross representing the 93,852 American servicemen whose last known status was either prisoner of war or missing in action. (click for larger version)
December 14, 2011 - Though they slumber beneath the frozen ground, their deeds are not forgotten.

Though they can longer help trim the tree, enjoy Christmas dinner or visit with family, they're still very much a part of our annual holiday celebration for without their service and sacrifices, we would not be free to celebrate as we choose.

For the third consecutive year, local veterans, scouts and citizens gathered Saturday at Ridgelawn Memorial Cemetery in Oxford Village to take part in the national Wreaths Across America ceremony designed to honor deceased veterans by placing Christmas wreaths beside their graves.

"This is what it's about a community and nation coming together to remember our fallen, honor our soldiers and teach our children (that) freedom's not free, but heroes are real," said Loretta Acheson, who operates the private cemetery with her husband, Chris Acheson.

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This year, Oxford Boy Scout Troop 366 raised enough money to purchase more than 100 wreaths.

"Every year, the numbers grow," Acheson said. "One-hundred ten (veterans) have been honored this year. And with your help in 2012, 220 is not an impossible figure."

"Our dream is to have every one of our fallen soldiers' graves (in all of Oxford's cemeteries) adorned and honored with a wreath of evergreen," she noted.

Ridgelawn Cemetery is the final resting place for 202 veterans, according to Acheson. That doesn't include all the veterans buried in Oxford Township's cemeteries.

As always, Acheson was extremely grateful to all the volunteers and donors who every year help make possible the Wreaths Across America ceremony.

"I'm proud to be a member of a community which will not allow our heroes to be forgotten," she said.

"I don't know that anyone celebrates war, but we do celebrate sacrifice," said Pastor Dave Gerber, of Oxford, who delivered a solemn prayer during the ceremony. "I pray that we would not forget these soldiers and their sacrifice that we would someday be able to have peace and no longer have to say good-bye to our brothers or sisters, aunts or uncles, mothers or fathers that we would no longer send our children into war."

Amen. clude all the veterans buried in Oxford Township's cemeteries.

As always, Acheson was extremely grateful to all the volunteers and donors who help make possible the Wreaths Across America ceremony.

"I'm proud to be a member of a community which will not allow our heroes to be forgotten," she said.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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