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Local DAR honoring vets with wreaths

The Herald - 12/13/2019

Dec. 13--HERMITAGE -- While there are veterans who have left us, the local Daughters of the American Revolution are ensuring they will not be forgotten this holiday season.

The Pymatuning Chapter of DAR will lay wreaths on veterans' graves at noon Saturday at Morefield Cemetery in Hermitage. This is part of the DAR National Society's program in becoming a sponsor for Wreaths Across America.

"We're dedicated to doing service work for others," said Barbara Matejka, regent for the local DAR. "This is for our veterans, the preservation of history and for the education of our children."

Wreaths Across America, a nonprofit group based in Columbia Falls, Maine, oversees the placement of wreaths on veterans' graves at more than 1,400 locations nationwide.

Under the program, donors give $15 for each wreath created by the Worcester Wreath Co. in Maine. The wreaths are delivered to locations by trucking companies that donate their services, according to Wreaths Across America's website.

A local group must be responsible for the wreaths and laying them, Matejka said.

With 68 members, the local DAR covers all of Mercer County.

"But we have members in Lawrence County and Ohio as well," said Connie White, the local DAR's registrar.

This is the first year for the local DAR's sponsorship for the program. There are nearly 500 veterans buried at the Hermitage cemetery, and the organization was able to collect donations to cover 315 of them. Wreaths had to be ordered by Dec. 2., White said.

Both women said the goal for next year will be to raise enough to cover all the graves.

DAR isn't using this as a fundraiser for the group, White said.

"We're not making any money whatsoever," she said. "Everything we make we roll back into getting more wreaths."

Veterans from all eras are buried at the cemetery, White said.

"Morefield is one of the oldest cemeteries in the area," she said.

When it comes to volunteering there are no boundary lines for DAR. Earlier this year the local chapter cleaned more than 100 tombstones at Corner House Church's cemetery in Hubbard.

"We were contacted by the church to help restore specific sites," White said. "We ended up cleaning up all of them."

This wasn't a matter of just honoring those in the military.

"There were several veterans buried there, but most of them were family graves," Matejka said.

A ceremony at Morefield will begin at noon in the cemetery's chapel. Air Force Major Scott Allen from the Youngstown Air Reserve Station will be the master of ceremonies. Don Christy, VFW district commander, also will speak, along with State Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Hermitage, 7th District.

Ceremonial wreaths will be laid in the chapel, and afterwards volunteers will lay the wreaths in the cemetery.

"Everyone is welcome to help us lay the wreaths," Matejka said.

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