Hundreds in Cedar City honor veterans during ‘Wreaths Across America’ event

CEDAR CITY — Hundreds of people gathered in Cedar City Cemetery Saturday afternoon to pay tribute to military veterans past and present.

Cedar City’s “Wreaths Across America” event, Cedar City, Utah, Dec. 19, 2020 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

More than 800 wreaths were placed on veterans’ graves during what was Cedar City’s inaugural participation in “Wreaths Across America” Day.

“Right now across the country, at more than 2,400 memorial sites like this one, we are gathering as one nation to remember, honor and teach the values of sacrifice and service,” said Cedar City Councilman Scott Phillips, who served as the hourlong program’s master of ceremonies.

Cedar City Mayor Maile Wilson-Edwards also gave a short speech, saying, “This nation has always been the first to stand up for the freedom of people around the world. Many of you here today have answered that call and served your country well. We are here today to say thank you and offer our deepest gratitude.”

The program also featured a poetic tribute “Santa and the Solider,” read by Brian Vaughn, vocal renditions of “God Bless America” and “America the Beautiful” by Brandon Burk and the playing of “Taps” by trumpet player Brandon Brinkerhoff. Also, at the beginning of the ceremony, SUU Aviation did a “missing man” flyover, after which the flag was posted by a color guard of Eagle Scouts, and SUU students Megan Goodrich and Ashley Stackhouse sang the national anthem.

Ceremonial wreaths were placed in front of the cemetery’s Veterans Memorial marker, in honor of each of the branches of the armed forces. Those were followed by one more wreath that Phillips noted was “in honor of the 93,129 United States service members from all branches of the service whose last known status was either prisoner of war or missing in action.”

“These individuals have never returned to their families and homes,” he added. “We shall never forget you.”

Cedar City’s “Wreaths Across America” event, Cedar City, Utah, Dec. 19, 2020 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

During his earlier remarks, Phillips also made special mention of local veteran and Native American artist Daniel Growler, whose mural painting called “The Cedar People” was recently unveiled downtown.

“Sadly, Daniel lost his battle with cancer one week ago,” Phillips said. “Along with hundreds of other dedicated American veterans today, I honor Daniel and his family for his service and contributions to his country and this community.”

At the conclusion of the program, family members and friends went throughout the cemetery and placed wreaths on the graves of those loved ones who’d served in the military. They were assisted by dozens of volunteers who helped with handing out the balsam wreaths and placing them.

“Remember, we are not here today to decorate graves,” Phillips said. “We are here to remember not their deaths, but their lives. Each wreath is a gift of appreciation from a grateful America.”

“Each veteran’s grave is marked with a small American flag,” Phillips added. “As you lay the wreath, please take a moment to say the veteran’s name out loud to remember his or her service to a grateful nation.”

Phillips, who served on the city’s Wreaths Across America committee, thanked his fellow committee members, the volunteers and the many generous donors and sponsors who helped make the project possible. Donations for “Wreaths Across America” are accepted year-round by the Bald Eagle Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Check out the proceedings at the cemetery by watching the video in the player above and viewing the photos in gallery below.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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