Bryan M. Parker. Ann E. Evans. Corey A. Hill. Rick A. Barker. Richard L. Valade.
Those names, etched in headstones at the Roseburg National Cemetery Annex in Roseburg, were among thousands honored Saturday during a solemn wreath-laying ceremony.
Now in its 14th year, more than 100 volunteers helped lay nearly 1,500 live balsam remembrance wreaths at the cemetery, said event organizer Linda C. Mooney.
“People just kept coming, looking to help,” she said of the volunteers. “One family had three generations that came to lay wreaths. Seeing that happen was so heartwarming.”
Saturday’s ceremony, held on a cold December day with the clouds hugging the hills in the background, was one of nearly 1,800 national Wreaths Across America events designed to ensure that no veteran is forgotten this holiday season.
Mac McAllister, a pastor and member of the Patriot Guard Riders, has volunteered at the ceremony every year. He felt a duty to do so, he said.
“It’s important that we remember all those who have sacrificed for our freedom,” McAllister said. “To not remember them would be wrong.”
Local veterans presented seven wreaths, one for each branch of the Service and one for MIA/POWs.
Don Feliciano laid a wreath for those who served or are serving in the Army; Robert Lake for the Marine Corps; Terry Mooney for the Navy; Phil Delia for the Air Force; Paul Branchfield for the Coast Guard; Dan Blocher for the Merchant Marines; and George “Stole” Burson, for those whose last known status was either Prisoners of War or Missing in Action.
Despite the somber service there were moments of levity.
Burson, an Army POW from World War II and likely the oldest person in the ceremony, was told he looked crisp in his uniform.
“I’m just glad I found it,” he said with a laugh. “We spent all day looking for it.”
Mel Cheney, a Vietnam veteran and past executive director of the Community Cancer Center in Roseburg, told those in attendance that it’s important to show gratitude to those who serve.
“When you see a veteran or an active member of our armed services, please thank them,” he said.
Christy Mooney, who presided over the ceremony, ended it by paying homage to those who served.
“Each wreath was a gift of appreciation from a grateful America,” Mooney said.
Those comments were followed by three volleys from the Honor Guard and taps, played on a bugle.