We think of Christmas as a time of gift-giving, but it is also a time to give thanks.
Melvin Blizzard, Jr., president of the Deer Park Methodist Cemetery board of trustees, has a hope that everyone will stop to recognize and thank those who serve this country, making this holiday season possible in a nation that is free.
This year, Deer Park Methodist Cemetery is participating in its second annual Wreaths Across America program from noon to 1 p.m. on December 15 at Deer Park Methodist Cemetery.
“We have 149 veteran graves at Deer Park Cemetery,” Blizzard said. “We will be remembering our fallen U.S. veterans, honoring those who serve, and teaching our children the value of freedom.”
Blizzard noted the many wars that the veterans in their cemetery have served in. They even have the first American casualty from the Spanish-American War buried there.
They were the first Carroll County cemetery to participate in Wreaths Across America last year, but after he shared what they were doing with Babylon Vault (who donated a tent to them for the event) the company recruited more cemeteries to participate.
This year, Blizzard said, there are nine Carroll County cemeteries taking part. He spoke about the national program, Wreaths Across America (www.wreathsacrossamerica.org).
“We get sponsors for the wreaths at $15 per wreath. This year I needed 157 wreaths,” he said, “and we had more than that donated. Payment is made for wreaths online to Wreaths across America. They reach out to big trucking companies across the United States, who donate the trucks, the drivers, and the gas to go to Maine and get the wreaths and drive them across America to the locations where these events are being held.
“Last year, when the truck arrived, I talked to the drivers. They drove straight from Maine to drop off our wreaths and then were going to New Jersey and then to Virginia. The wreaths are made in Maine with fresh greens and big bows and they are nicely made up.”
Last year, Blizzard said over 250 people attended. He hopes to see a turnout of that size or larger this year. They plan to honor all branches of armed forces, the missing in action and prisoners of war. This will be followed by a ceremony with guest speakers, Pastor John Dean from Deer Park UMC, Delegate Haven Shoemaker and Commissioner Richard Weaver. The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office will have their Honor Guard at the ceremony and “Taps” will be played. Audrey Cimino from the Community Foundation of Carroll County will sing the National Anthem.
“Roaring Run Lions Club and Deer Park Lions Club will have hot chocolate for everyone,” he said. “And, the Maryland Store will also have drinks and cookies to share. Last year, everyone loved it.”
The Deer Park UMC Cemetery is located at 2200 Sykesville Road, Westminster. The ceremony will be held rain or shine.
“We remember the fallen, honor those who served and teach our children the value of freedom,” Blizzard said. “To me, it is to honor the people who serve our country and protect our freedom. Without them, we would be in rough shape. It is a little bit that we can contribute as a society to those who have served our country and have passed, and those who are serving, or have served and are still living.
“Our children need to understand that they protect our freedom every year. It is a worthwhile and motivational experience to do this and to contribute. We ask people who lay the wreath to say the name of the person on the tombstone and thank them for their service. Their memory will always be carried on and will not be forgotten until we stop saying their names.”