By Katherine Torres
Cadets and Senior Members of Westchester Cadet Squadron 1 of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), the official auxiliary of the US Air Force, participated with Wreaths Across America (WAA) to honor the veterans interred at our nation’s cemeteries and at cemeteries around the world, during the 22nd annual Wreaths Across America Day, which took place this year on Saturday, December 14, 2013.
The joint effort took place at St. Paul’s Church, National Historic Site in Mt. Vernon. Veterans, retired service members and cadets alike braved a major snow storm to dedicate seven ceremonial wreaths (each representing a branch of the military and one in memory of all POWs-MIAs) at a ceremony attended by members of American Legion Post 347 (Larchmont) and American Legion Post 979 (Eastchester) (which also provided the three-volley salute), Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2285 (Eastchester), and the Military Order of the Purple Heart (Mt. Vernon). St. Paul’s church, one of New York's oldest parishes, was used as a hospital following the important Revolutionary War, Battle at Pell's Point in 1776, and is now operated by the National Park Service.
The ceremony included a presentation by New York Army National Guard Colonel Reginald Sanders, commander of the famous 369th Sustainment Brigade (New York’s “Harlem Hell fighters) who paid tribute to Cpl. Morris D. Link. Detective Matt McCrosson of the NYPD Emerald Society’s Pipes and Drums closed the ceremony with “Amazing Grace”. After the ceremony, cadets and guests proceeded to the adjacent historical cemetery to lay sponsored wreaths on the graves of almost 20 veterans, whose personal histories were recited by St. Paul’s Church National Historic Site Manager, Mr. David Osborne.
Upon first receiving the invitation to attend, Mr. Michael Fix, a Vietnam veteran and the Adjutant of American Legion Post 979 was happy to hear that a civilian organization would be holding an event to honor our veterans. “It is refreshing to see younger people take an interest in the military history that made America the great country that it is," said Mr. Fix after the ceremony. St. Paul’s Church NHS Manager David Osborne added that "it was a real honor and pleasure to join with the local Civil Air Patrol squadron and veterans’ organizations to host our inaugural participation in this annual, nationwide project honoring service members. With the chill of winter, early sunsets, and snow drifts piling in the historic cemetery, it seems altogether fitting to brighten the graves of a very deserving group of men with these wreaths.”
While the ceremony takes place nationwide every second Saturday of December, wreaths can be sponsored at any time of the year via mail or on the WAA website at www.wreathsacrossamerica.org. To help the squadron honor those veterans buried at St. Paul’s, visit the WAA website and look for location “NYSPMV” under the “Act Now” tab and follow the directions to “Donate Locally.”
Westchester Cadet Squadron 1 currently meets on Friday evenings at the New Rochelle Municipal Marina. For more information, please contact SM Katherine Torres at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.westcadets.org.