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Veterans honored with wreath-laying ceremony at Bemidji's Greenwood Cemetery

The Northland Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol held a wreath-laying ceremony to ensure veterans were honored and remembered on Saturday, Dec. 17, at Greenwood Cemetery.

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A Civil Air Patrol cadet places a wreath on a gravesite during a wreath-laying ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022, at Greenwood Cemetery.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI — Braving frigid temperatures, the Northland Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, local veterans and family members gathered for a wreath-laying ceremony to ensure all those who fought bravely for America’s freedom were honored and remembered on Saturday, Dec. 17, at Bemidji's Greenwood Cemetery.

The ceremony was held in honor of National Wreaths Across America Day and was just one of more than 1,000 services that took place across the country this year with one common goal in mind: to place a live, balsam fir wreath at the headstone of every veteran laid to rest and say each person’s name aloud, so their memory and legacies continue to live on.

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Veterans and service members carry wreaths to represent each branch of the military as part of a wreath-laying ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022, at Greenwood Cemetery.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

“In many homes, there is an empty seat for one who is serving or one who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” the Wreaths Across America’s website reads. “There is no better time to express our appreciation than during the hustle and bustle of the holiday seasons to show our veterans and their families that we will not forget. We will never forget.”

Starting out with a moment of silence, Squadron Commander Robert Long followed with a short reading to summarize the Wreaths Across America’s mission by remembering the fallen U.S. veterans, honoring those who serve and continue to teach children the value of freedom.

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Squadron Commander Robert Long reads the mission of Wreaths Across America to attendees during a wreath-laying ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022, at Greenwood Cemetery.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

“We are proud to be Americans that live in a free society made up of many people from all walks of life,” Long read. “The freedoms we enjoy today have not come without a price. Lying here before us in cemeteries throughout the nation are men and women who gave their lives so that we may live in freedom without fear.”

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Long continued with examples of daily freedoms Americans have that may get looked overlooked from time to time like worshiping as we see fit, voting for the leaders of our choosing and the right to succeed and the right to fail in whatever endeavor we wish to pursue.

“The United States of America is founded on the ideas of freedom, justice and equality. The nation stands as a shining beacon of liberty and freedom,” he continued. “We thank those who gave their lives to keep us free and we shall not forget you, we shall remember.”

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Eight wreaths are placed at the center of Greenwood Cemetery to represent each branch of the military during a wreath-laying ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

The ceremonial wreaths represent each branch of the service along with prisoners of war and those missing in action. All eight wreaths were proudly displayed in the center of the cemetery, but this year, an new wreath was added.

“This year we’ve added an additional ceremony wreath to honor the men and women currently serving in the U.S. Space Force,” Long added. The U.S. Space Force organizes, trains and equips space forces in order to protect the country and allied interests in space, along with providing space capabilities to the joint force.

One by one, veterans and service members made their way up and placed each wreath in its rightful spot to represent the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Coast Guard, POW and MIA for all to see, salute and remember.

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Eight wreaths are placed at the center of Greenwood Cemetery to represent each branch of the military during a wreath-laying ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

After the ceremony, the Civil Air Patrol cadets escorted family members to the grave sites of their loved ones to place the wreaths and render a salute in memory of the veteran.

“We are not here today to decorate graves, we are here to remember not their death, but their lives,” Long concluded.

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Civil Air Patrol cadets honor a grave site with a salute during a wreath-laying ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022, at Greenwood Cemetery.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer
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The Northland Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, local veterans and family members gather for a wreath-laying ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022, at Greenwood Cemetery.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer
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Wreaths are placed at the center of Greenwood Cemetery to represent each branch of the military during a wreath-laying ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

Related Topics: VETERANSBEMIDJICHRISTMAS
Maggi is a reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer focusing on outdoor and human interest stories. Raised in Aitkin, Minnesota, Maggi is a graduate of Bemidji State University's class of 2022 with a degree in Mass Communication.
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