Fallen veterans honored during wreath ceremony

BELPRE – Despite the constant rain Saturday, several local groups recognized and honored veterans of the past and present though the laying of wreaths as part of a national program.

“As we honor our fallen Americans, I ask that we honor all veterans,” Belpre Mayor Mike Lorentz addressed a small crowd Saturday morning. “No matter how long these brave men and women have been gone, they deserve to be remembered as everyone does.”

Roughly a dozen members of the Belpre community joined Lorentz and his wife Joyce along with members of American Legion Post 495 and Belpre Rotary to place wreaths on the graves of 15 Revolutionary War soldiers and officers laid to rest in Cedarville Cemetery, located along Old Cemetery Drive between Cross and West streets in Belpre.

This was the third year for these groups to place the live evergreen wreaths on the graves.

“It really is a remarkable thing we do here to honor our veterans and reflect on what it means to be free and what those we are recognizing did to give us what we have today,” Lorentz said.

Belpre Rotary Club donated the wreaths at Cedarville Cemetery because of the historical significance of the land and those buried there, according to Rotary member Dana Fouss.

The cemetery, which is located on the bank of the Ohio River, has graves dating between 1791 and 1897 and includes some of the earliest settlers of the Belpre area, such as Rufus Putnam’s granddaughter and Capt. William Dana and his wife Mary Bancroft Dana, said Fouss.

While the Rotary put wreaths on 15 graves, there were originally more Revolutionary War veterans buried in the cemetery but several were moved throughout the years in an effort to keep them from being washed away by floodwaters.

For more than a decade the Rotary Club has been maintaining and cleaning up the cemetery. The club members have restored the grave markers, fencing and landscaping as a community project.

“(Cedarville) cemetery gives us a chance to touch and be closer to history,” Lorentz said. “It is a wonderful thing the Rotary and American Legion do here, for veterans and the community.”

The wreaths placed on the graves were donated by individuals across the country as part of the Wreaths Across America program.

In Parkersburg’s City Park, members of the Civil Air Patrol’s Parkersburg Composite Squadron honored all veterans from the Mid-Ohio Valley with another wreath-laying ceremony.

“We are all one nation with one flag,” said Capt. Aaron Richards with the CAP. “The freedoms we enjoy today have not come without a price; there are men and women in cemeteries across the country to show it.”

Officers with the CAP, which is locally based at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport on West Virginia 31, placed wreaths representing each branch of the armed services in the Veterans’ Memorial at City Park with several other previously laid wreaths.

“Our nation stands as a shining beacon of liberty and freedom because of what our veterans have done and given,” Richards said.

Wreaths Across America is a non-profit organization which began placing wreaths on graves at Arlington National Cemetery in 1992.