by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher

A week from Christmas Saturday afternoon; the Long Beach American Legion 1995, the American Legion Auxiliary, VFW Post 3937, Boy Scout Troop 321, and Girl Scout Troop 3249, honored the local fallen soldiers by participating in the Wreaths Across America program at the Long Beach City Cemetery.

“Wreaths Across America is a way of honoring the fallen veterans one day a year by wreaths given to us by the military and then we place them on military graves for Christmas,” said Margaret Levens, the President of the American Legion Auxiliary and is a Gold-Star mother after her son; Donnie, was a Marine Sergeant and killed in the line of duty.  “This is our way of celebrating their life even though they are not with us.  This is the reason we are free because of the fallen soldiers before us.”

In December 1992, wreath maker Morrill Worcester found himself with a surplus of 5,000 wreaths during the holiday season.  Worcester saw the surplus as an opportunity to pay tribute to our country’s veterans and arranged for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington National Cemetery.

The now annual tribute to our country’s veterans has continued ever since, touching the lives of millions of veterans’ families and volunteers and growing in scope through the years.

“Everyone has to remember all of these veterans in the cemetery were here before us, served our country, and paved the path for us to do what we do now,” expressed American Legion Commander Rik Dew.  “This is one way we can show, honor and give respect back to those who came before us.”

In 2020, with the financial support of businesses, organizations, and veterans’ families and friends, these groups were able to lay a wreath at every one of the more than 200 known veteran’s gravesites and appeared to achieve the same success.

Wreath costs were $15 and made in the USA with Maine balsam.  Although the Long Beach City Cemetery was be the location of the wreath laying ceremony, wreaths for veterans interred at other Long Beach and neighboring cemeteries were be sponsored and picked up that afternoon.

The American Legion Post 1995 is named in honor of Marine Sergeant Donnie Levens.