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Veterans’ View: Some 1,500 to be honored at 15 cemeteries as Wreaths Across America doubles in Carroll County

On Saturday, Dec. 14, at exactly 12 noon, Carroll countians will gather to remember the fallen, honor those who serve and their families and teach the next generation about the value of freedom on National Wreaths Across America Day.

There is a ceremony followed by the placement of live, balsam fir wreaths at the headstone of every veteran at the approved “official” cemeteries where our local veterans are laid to rest and to spread patriotism and commemoration for the ultimate sacrifices they made for our country. This is open to anyone who would like to attend.

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This is the second year that local business Babylon Vault Company has coordinated this event. This year, 15 cemeteries are participating under the company’s umbrella.

According to Donna Babylon, third-generation owner of Babylon Vault, “We have a longstanding tradition of honoring veterans with a special setup when they are laid to rest.” This tradition was started 90 years ago when the company was established by lifetime New Windsor residents, Graham Babylon and his father, Guy William. Graham, in fact, was a veteran of the Navy. He lost his only brother at sea during the Battle of Coral Sea Savo Island in 1942.

“Patriotism is very strong with my employees," Donna Babylon said. "My manager, Steve Koontz and I started exploring the possibility of partnering with Wreaths Across America three years ago.”

Babylon appointed Community Relations Manager, Tammy Ray, to take the charge.

“Once approved by Wreaths Across America, Tammy started contacting cemeteries to join us in honoring our veterans. Last year we had seven cemeteries approved allowing us to honor 851 veterans," Babylon said. "Our overall goal is to honor every veteran in Carroll County. We have a long way to go, but the support of the community with donations has been gratifying.”

Added Ray: “We have expanded our approved cemeteries this year ... allowing us to honor almost 1,500 veterans. Having our 15 be part of the 2,095 official Wreaths Across America cemeteries is exciting. We already have several more cemeteries who want to join us next year.

The success of the event relies heavily on volunteers. These volunteers include, but are not limited to, children, educators, first responders, veterans, Gold Star and Blue Star families, corporations and other non-profits and the community at large. The event even includes professional truck drivers who willingly donate their rig, time and fuel to deliver wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery and approved cemeteries coast-to-coast.

“Wreaths Across America provides a program that we must follow, but each ceremony is a little different because we rely on the talents of our volunteers,” Babylon explained. “Last year, while visiting St. James Church [formerly Strawbridge] in New Windsor, I had asked if anyone knew how to play ‘Taps.’ A young man learned how to play it on his clarinet for us. At Pipe Creek, a 13-year-old girl volunteered to sing the national anthem and she nailed it. And at Meadow Branch, a Marine in his dress uniform ceremoniously folded the flag.”

Babylon Vault is still looking for Color Guards, individuals who would like to sing the national anthem and buglers at the ceremonies. If anyone is interested, contact Ray, Babylon Vault Company at BabylonVaultCommRelations@aol.com or 410-848-0393.

“Reaching into the community for support through wreath sponsorships and volunteering has been gratifying,” Ray said. "The response and love for our hometown veterans drives me further to reach Babylon Vault’s goal of honoring every Carroll County veteran.”

Babylon, Ray and Koontz summed it up by saying, "Bringing Wreaths Across America to Carroll County by blending community and patriotism is our way to say thanks to our veterans.”

On the first Tuesday of each month, the Times publishes as its editorial a Veterans’ View, an opportunity to draw attention to veterans’ issues as well as to inform and educate the community and all veterans about the multitude of available services.

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