DRAFFENVILLE– Marshall County civic leaders and veterans gathered to take part Saturday in the annual Wreaths Across America event at Veterans Plaza in Mike Miller Park.
Judge Executive Mike Miller, an Army veteran of the Vietnam Era, was keynote speaker.
“All across America, we stop to remember the men and women who sacrificed so we could be free today,” Miller said.
“Freedom was paid for by the blood, sweat and tears of those men and women.”
Wreaths commemorating the sacrifice of members of America’s armed forces were placed on stands in front of monuments marking the five branches of service – Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
A wreath was also laid in honor of sailors of the Merchant Marine, which came under military control during World War II.
Post 236 chaplain George Culp noted that the Merchant Marine suffered a 4.02 percent casualty rate during the war, making it the most dangerous of all branches.
A wreath was also laid in recognition of the 93,129 members of the military whose last known status was either prisoner of war or missing in action.
Laying the wreaths were David Hamlin, former sergeant, U.S. Army; Airman Matt Smith, U.S. Navy; Sgt. Joshua Ott, U.S. Marine Corps; Bob Webster, retired major, U.S. Air Force; Petty Officer Daniel Grather, U.S. Coast Guard; Tim Powell, whose father served in the Merchant Marine in World War II; and Ronnie Riley, in recognition of the POW/MIA service members.
“Elks Lodge 2707 started this ceremony years ago,” Miller said, alluding to local participation in the national event that was established in 1992 when a Maine businessman conducted a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
For the third year in a row, leaders of American Legion Post 236 in Calvert City administered the event.
“We thank Post 236 for continuing this tradition,” Miller said.
Miller noted that the Veterans Plaza is a fitting tribute to those who have served. The plaza features paving bricks with the names and dates of service of Marshall County natives or residents and a listing of those who were killed in action.
“Every year we have two layings of bricks,” Miller said. “God forbid we should ever have to add another name to our Wall of Honor.”