Over 7,000 wreaths sponsored for Oregon Trail State Veterans Cemetery ahead of Christmas - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Over 7,000 wreaths sponsored for Oregon Trail State Veterans Cemetery ahead of Christmas

(Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

UPDATE: This story has been updated with additional information about the wreath laying ceremonies scheduled for the Casper area. In addition to Oregon Trail State Veterans Cemetery and Highland Cemetery, wreaths will also be placed at Wyoming Memorial Gardens. Due to the pandemic, there are also some changes from ceremonies held in years past.

CASPER, Wyo. — “Wreaths Across America” is a nonprofit which aims to place “Remembrance” wreaths at cemeteries across the country in honor of fallen veterans ahead of Christmas.

People have sponsored 7,097 wreaths to be placed at graves at the Oregon Trail State Veterans Cemetery. That is over double the goal of sponsoring 3,000 wreaths for the cemetery.

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The Natrona County Republican Women raised funding to purchase 4,200 total wreaths to be placed at three cemeteries in the Casper area during their annual gala, according to Kathy Thomas, who helps coordinate the laying of the wreaths.

Wreaths will be placed at the Oregon Trail State Veterans Ceremony, Highland Cemetery and Wyoming Memorial Gardens.

Thomas said that local chapters of the Civil Air Partol and Patriot Guard Riders also helped sponsor wreaths and coordinate the ceremonies.

There are about 3,000 veterans buried at Oregon Trail State Veterans Cemetery and Thomas said that a wreath will be placed for each veteran. About 1,000 wreaths will be placed at Highland Cemetery and about 200 wreaths will be placed at Wyoming Memorial Gardens.

Thomas added that there are more veterans buried at Highland Cemetery, but that these graves aren’t always marked to indicate that. She said people who have relatives who served in the military buried at Highland can contact her or fellow Natrona County Republican Women member Victoria Lockard if they have questions.

Thomas can be reached at 703-362-0264 and Lockard can be reached at 307-277-1748.

Funding for wreaths beyond what is needed this year will be applied to future wreath laying ceremonies in the area, Thomas said.

Wreaths Across America will be at the Oregon Trail State Veterans Cemetery at 10 am Saturday, Dec. 19 to lay wreaths on the graves of veterans.

Thomas explained that this year’s ceremony will be abbreviated compared to years past due to the pandemic. The ceremony will be held entirely outdoors rather than also in the cemetery’s chapel.

A wreath will be laid for each of the seven branches of the military during the ceremony.

A maximum of 250 people will be able to attend and masks will be required, in accordance with state public health orders.

A similar ceremony will begin at noon Saturday, Dec. 19 at Highland Cemetery. Wreaths will then be placed at Wyoming Memorial Gardens at 1 pm.

Wreaths Across America said on Thursday that the U.S. Senate took action to officially recognize Dec. 19 as “Wreaths Across America Day.”

On Dec. 15, Wreaths Across America will launch an escort of wreaths that will make their way to Arlington National Cemetery on Dec. 19. The escort this year will see some changes due to COVID-19.

“The physical journey – which will include one tractor trailer load of wreaths hauled by Gully Transportation professional driver JD Walker, who is also a Gold Star Father and NAVY Veteran, 11 wrapped CHEVY vehicles carrying Gold Star Families, and nine police cruisers – will take place from Tuesday, Dec. 15, through National Wreaths Across America Day, Saturday, Dec. 19,” the organization says.

The escort will be shared virtually for people to keep track of and tune into online.