CASPER, Wyo. – Volunteers unloaded and stacked hundreds of boxes containing wreaths at the Oregon Trail State Veterans Cemetery on Friday morning.
The wreaths are the accumulation of months of fundraising by the Natrona County Republican Women.
According to the committee co-chair Kathy Thomas, the local Wreaths Across America effort started in 2016 when 187 wreaths were placed at the Oregon Trail cemetery.
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This year the committee, along with the Patriot Guard and the Civil Air Patrol, raised enough money for 4,200 wreaths.
There are around 3,000 wreaths for graves at Oregon Trail, and the rest will go to veterans buried at other area cemeteries.
Thomas says the Kelly Walsh DECA group, Daughters of the American Revolution, Natrona County Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are among other organizations that help with the effort, particularly when helping to place the wreaths on each grave.
“A thousand volunteers will be here to help us lay these wreaths,” said Thomas.
A ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the Oregon Trail chapel before wreaths are laid. Thomas recommends arriving early.
The community is encouraged to attend the ceremony and lay wreaths honoring Casper’s veterans.
“They say a person dies twice, once when you pass away and again when your name is spoken,” said Thomas, “so they ask us to say the veteran’s name when you lay a wreath and thank them for their service.”
Wreaths will be laid at Highland Park Cemetery at noon, and then at Memorial Garden at 1:30 p.m., said Thomas.
“At Highland and Memorial Garden we ask families come because their veterans are buried throughout the cemetery, so we ask them to come and help us leave those wreaths.”
Wreaths Across America is a national organization that aims to honor veterans during the holiday season.
“In many homes, there is an empty seat for one who is serving or one who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” says their webiste.