Wreaths Across America ceremony honors Paiute veterans

Aros Mackey and Glenn Rogers stand behind a Southern Utah Paiute Princess who sings a song of honor for veterans during a Wreaths Across America ceremony, Shivwits Paiute Indian Cemetery, Washington County, Utah, Dec. 17, 2016 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

WASHINGTON COUNTY — A ceremony Saturday honoring deceased Native American veterans paid respect to the sacrifices made by the Paiute people who fought for their country.

Patriot Guard Riders, St. George Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol and members of the Shivwits Band of Paiutes participate in a Wreaths Across America ceremony, Shivwits, Utah, Dec. 17, 2016 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News
Patriot Guard Riders, St. George Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol and members of the Shivwits Band of Paiutes participate in a Wreaths Across America ceremony, Shivwits Paiute Indian Cemetery, Washington County, Utah, Dec. 17, 2016 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

National Wreaths Across America Day included a stop at the Shivwits Paiute Indian Cemetery in Washington County Saturday afternoon to honor the 22 Paiute veterans buried there. It was conducted by the St. George Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol.

“We’ve been coming here for the last six years, and all across America wreaths have been laid on the gravesites of the fallen and those who serve this great nation,” Civil Air Patrol member Aros Mackey said.

The humble tradition began in 1992 at Arlington National Cemetery and has since spread across the country as an annual holiday tradition.

“Those people served valiantly and they dedicated their lives so that we could lead our lives in safety and in peace,” Mackey said. “The stories of valor and commitment for freedom are felt today as we remember who they are and what they did.”

Veterans from World War II, wars in Korea and Vietnam were represented among the dead honored at the cemetery.

A wreath is laid at the grave of Crawford Snow, Shivwits, Utah, Dec. 17, 2016 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News
A wreath lies at the grave of Crawford Snow, Shivwits Paiute Indian Cemetery, Washington County, Utah, Dec. 17, 2016 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

One of the soldiers honored was a man named Crawford Snow, a member of the 104th Infantry Airborne Division. He was killed in combat in Vietnam.

Snow was a close friend to Shivwits Band of Paiutes council member Glenn Rogers, who recalled spending time with him in his youth.

“When I was a kid, I used to hunt deer with that guy,” Rogers said. “He was patriotic, and he volunteered for everything he did.”

Crawford’s grave was the first to be adorned with a wreath as a gesture for his sacrifice.

“These veterans, they don’t even know you,” Rogers said, “they don’t know who you are – they died for you.”

Patriot Guard Riders were on site bearing American flags, standing at attention through the entire ceremony.

“We need to respect that flag and salute it. That’s our flag; we’re Americans, all of us,” Rogers said.

Members of Daughters of the American Revolution participate in a Wreaths Across America ceremony, Shivwits, Utah, Dec. 17, 2016 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News
Members of Daughters of the American Revolution participate in a Wreaths Across America ceremony, Shivwits Paiute Indian Cemetery, Washington County, Utah, Dec. 17, 2016 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

Rogers thanked the Daughters of the American Revolution whose members have been instrumental in supplying flags and wreaths for the modest desert cemetery.

“We honor our veterans, especially these Native Americans who have helped fight for our freedom,” Daughters of the American Revolution regent Karen Shuman said.

Songs of honor were offered in native Paiute tongue before cadets from the Civil Air Patrol placed wreaths at a monument dedicated to the veterans.

Wreaths were then carefully placed at each veteran’s headstone by airmen, tribe members and the public – once placed, they are not to be moved or adjusted for the duration of the ceremony according to ceremonial tradition.

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Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • .... December 19, 2016 at 3:04 am

    This is indeed very much appreciated by those that know they have their way of life and freedom because of those that made the absolute sacrifice ..RIP

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