More than 1,000 local veterans will be remembered, at noon Saturday, Dec.12, with wreaths on their graves at Rome Cemetery, St. Mary’s, St. Peter’s and at the Westernville Presbyterian Cemetery.

-- A Navy man, Walter M. Winfrey, who was captured when the Japanese invaded Alaska's Aleutian Islands during World War II, and who was tortured in a POW camp.
-- A Rome soldier, Spec. Paul J. Bostwick, who was killed in a plane crash in 1985, along with 247 other soldiers as they were returning from a peacekeeping mission.
-- An Army parachuter, Pvt. Joseph Cervo, who was shot by German soldiers as he descended from the sky over Holland in WWII, and who died just three months after his high school graduation.

Celebrated annually on the 2nd Saturday in December, National Wreaths Across America Day is a movement to cover all Veterans grave markers with a Christmas wreath.

Brief ceremonies will be held at each of the four cemeteries. Among the speakers will be Rep. Richard Hanna and Mayor Joseph Fusco. The participants will be color guards from Eastern Air Defense Sector, Rome VFW Post, Strough Civil Air Patrol; student choirs from RFA, Gansevoort and Bellamy schools; and JROTC members from RFA and Proctor.

The public is invited to the events at any of the four local cemeteries. Family members or friends of deceased veterans are encouraged to attend and help to place the wreaths on veterans graves. The ceremonies have been organized by the local chapter of Military Officers Association of America, the Western American Legion Ladies Auxiliary, the Rome Marine League, and the Rome Cemetery Association, with the help of the national Wreaths Across America organization.

Wreaths Across America - Mission and Vision

Remember. Honor. Teach. This is the mission of Wreaths Across America. By coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery and other veterans cemeteries around the country Wreaths Across America strives to remember our fallen heroes, honor those who serve and teach our children about the sacrifices made by veterans and their families to preserve our freedoms.

History of 'Wreaths Across America'

In 1992 Morrill Worcester and his business Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, had a surplus of wreaths toward the end of the holiday season. Years before as a young boy, Worcester had visited Arlington National Cemetery in our nation’s capitol. The experience had reminded him through his life of the sacrifice some had made in order for others, including himself, to succeed and flourish.

Plans were made to lay the wreaths in honor of our Veterans at an older, less visited section of Arlington National Cemetery. Volunteers stepped forward to help deliver and place the wreaths.

In 2007, the Wreaths Across America non-profit group was founded. The event has expanded to all 50 states to lay wreaths at veterans cemeteries to remember our fallen heroes, honor those who serve and teach our children about the sacrifices made by veterans and their families.