EXETER, R.I. (WPRI) – Wreaths Across America prepared earlier in the week to lay wreaths at veterans graves all over the country, including at the Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
Saturday afternoon, volunteers arrived in Exeter with their truckload of wreaths and began laying them out.
Gold Star families, those who have lost a family service member in the line of duty, were represented at the wreath-laying ceremony as well.
After brief speeches by local government officials, the actual wreath-laying began at noontime.
In a statement, Senator Elaine J. Morgan (District 34) said of the wreath laying ceremony, “I’m hopeful that people from around the Ocean State are able to attend this ceremony to honor our veterans. It is especially important during the busy holiday season to set aside time for those who have served our country.”
Senator Morgan is also a member of the Senate Committee on Special Legislation and Veterans’ Affairs.
Local Wreaths Across America coordinator Mike Dalmazzi admits he gets emotional on this day every year.
“The flags in the cemetery will always fly,” says Dalmazzi. “You’ll very seldom see them still. That’s not because of the breeze. That’s because of the last breath of all of the veterans you see out there.”
Wreaths Across America coordinate ceremonies in all fifty states, with thousands of volunteers working to organize, raise funds, and participate in the events.
Nearly one-million wreaths were set to be laid at as many American soldiers’ gravestones Saturday.
One-hundred of those wreaths made their way from Rhode Island, down to Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.