Press "Enter" to skip to content

Veterans honored during holidays at wreath ceremony in Corona del Mar

CORONA DEL MAR — Sheri Walling came to Pacific View Memorial Park to spend some time with her late father after adorning his headstone with a miniature Christmas tree, a bouquet of flowers and a wreath.
She looked around as more than 70 volunteers placed holiday wreaths on the headstones of fallen soldiers and veterans as a way to remember those who had served during the holiday season, Saturday morning, Dec. 16.
Rebecca Mincarelli, left, comforts Marti Smith, whom she just met after Wreaths Across America, a wreath-laying ceremony for veterans on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, at Pacific View Memorial Park in Corona del Mar. Smith broke down while talking about her son applying to be in the Navy after graduating from the University of Arizona and the uncertainty about his future. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)Cynthia Dofton, left, and Rebecca Mincarelli spend time reflecting on the service of veterans and thanking them after the Wreaths Across America ceremony at Pacific View Memorial Park in Corona del Mar on Saturday, Dec 16, 2017. Both women come from military families. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)Volunteers decorate graves at Pacific View Memorial Park during Wreaths Across America, a national event to remember the nation’s fallen heroes during the holidays in Corona del Mar on Saturday, Dec 16, 2017.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)Five-year-old Dillinger Olson places a wreath on a veteran’s grave during the Wreaths Across America event as his mom Jessica Olson coaches him at Pacific View Memorial Park in Corona del Mar on St Pacific View Memorial Park in Corona Del Mar on Saturday, Dec 16, 2017. “Thank you Mr. Aumack for your service to our country and for letting me be free,” she instructs him to say.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)Wreaths are laid at the graves of veterans of all races and religions during the Wreaths Across America national event to remember the nation’s fallen heroes during the holidays in Corona del Mar on Saturday, Dec 16, 2017. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)Rebecca Mincarelli lays a wreath on the grave of an apparently Jewish veteran at Pacific View Memorial Park. After thanking the stranger for his service she adds, “I hope you got some of those people who were bad to your ancestors.” (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)The family of Col. Akbar Fadavi gather at his grave after volunteers placed a wreath there in Corona del Mar on Saturday, Dec 16, 2017. Fadavi, who served 35 years during the Shah regime in Iran, was jailed for more than three years during the Revolution. He eventually fled to the U.S. in 1979. The rest of his family joined him by 1988. The family hugged volunteers who recognized vets with wreaths on Saturday, Dec 16, 2017. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)Show Caption of Expand
“It’s so heartwarming to see people putting wreaths out for people they don’t even know,” the Ladera Ranch resident said.
The volunteers participated in the annual Wreaths Across America, a national event to remember the nation’s fallen heroes during the holidays.
More than 1,200 cemeteries across the nation participated in the event, with volunteers laying upwards of 700,000 wreaths.
Walling, 57, sat at the headstone of her father, Edwin Cole, a two-year veteran of the Navy who died two years ago at 87 years old.
Cole loved the holiday season, she said.
“I miss my dad and I’m thankful he was always there for us,” Walling said. “That’s why I want to be here for him.”
Marie Hess, location manager of Pacific View Memorial Park, said the venue has hosted Wreaths Across America since 2008. This year, more than 1,200 wreaths were donated, nearly five times the 250 that were donated in 2016, she said.
“The freedoms we have today have not come without a price,” Hess told the crowd in attendance. “We honor (veterans), and their families, and the sacrifices they made to keep our community safe. We owe them for our way of life.”
In addition to honoring fallen veterans, Wreaths Across America also aims to teach children the value of freedom by having them participate in the placing of ceremonial wreaths on veterans’ graves.
During the ceremony, volunteers said the name of each veteran aloud as a way of keeping their legacy alive.
Mark and Rhonda Friedly and their two children came to volunteer at the invite of their Huntington Beach neighbors, Martin and Cindy Hinds.
Cindy Hinds is a member of the Clara Barton chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, based in Huntington Beach. The organization promotes historic preservation, education and patriotism and had members of multiple Orange County chapters in attendance on Saturday morning.
Mark Friedly said it was important for his two children, Lukas, 18, and Kaia, 17, to learn about the sacrifices made for their freedom.
“We can’t really experience what they experienced,” Kaia Friedly said. “People don’t even know what they’ve done.”
Mark Friedly said he and his family planned to research some of the names of veterans they honored to learn about the ways in which they served.
Janice Sansom brought members of Lion’s Heart, a youth volunteer organization, to the event, including her two sons, Reed, 13, and Brent, 12.
“We’re so blessed to have the lives we have now,” Sansom, a Huntington Beach resident said. “It was neat to see my sons participate and look at the names and years of service of veterans in World War II and the Vietnam War.”
The event started with a 45-minute ceremony, in which those in attendance heard stories from American Gold Star wife Linda Walters, whose late husband Clifford Walters served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher also spoke at the event.
But not everyone who signed up to volunteer got the chance to follow through.
Carole Hennoy of Long Beach was disappointed to see wreaths already on headstones and a group of 30 to 35 people when she arrived at the cemetery shortly past 11 a.m., anticipating a noon ceremony.
“They were milling around there looking at the wreaths because they didn’t get to lay them,” she said in a phone interview Saturday afternoon.
Hennoy said she signed up on an event webpage through Wreaths Across America. That website said the ceremony started at 12 p.m. Hennoy said she checked the website multiple times and called the venue about a week ago to confirm the start time, but did not receive a response.
“They never posted anything clearly on the website that the event was changed to 9 a.m.,” she said.
The organization apologized for the mixup, saying the event websites default to noon start times.
“We’re appreciative (the volunteers) come out to help,” said Amber Caron, Wreaths Across America spokeswoman. “Hopefully they still got to see the wreaths and walk the cemetery.”
Wreaths Across America events also were held at El Toro Memorial Park in Lake Forest and at Memory Gardens in Brea, Hess said.
Source: Oc Register

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply