Paso Robles News|Tuesday, October 24, 2017
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Veterans honored with wreath laying ceremony 

Ron Waltman, Chaplain Houston and Sgt. Galvan at Saturday's Wreaths Across America ceremony. Photos by Jackie Iddings.

Ron Waltman, Chaplain Houston and Sgt. Galvan at Saturday’s Wreaths Across America ceremony. Photos by Jackie Iddings.

Ten SLO county cemeteries join Wreaths Across America program

–On Saturday, 75 Christmas wreaths were laid on the graves of veterans at the Paso Robles District Cemetery and seven ceremonial wreaths placed on the Veterans Memorial at the cemetery. The ceremony was part of the national Wreaths Across America nonprofit program that began honoring veterans in 1992 and became an official organization in 2007.

Ron Waltman, local coordinator and spokesman for Wreaths Across America, said that in the few months between September and November participating cemeteries in San Luis Obispo County grew from none to ten. He credits the outreach efforts of the county’s American Legion and VFW Posts. The participating cemeteries in North County include Paso Robles District Cemetery, Cayucos-Morro Bay District Cemetery, Los Osos Valley Memorial Park, Atascadero Pine Mountain Cemetery and Templeton Cemetery.

Waltman, opening the ceremony on Saturday, said, “Even though this is our first year with the program, thanks to the efforts of our American Legion and local VFW posts, more than 250 wreaths, are being placed in cemeteries throughout our county.” Waltman thanked the members of the community, the Elks Club, the Moose Lodge and the Paso Robles Lions Club for their support in making the ceremony possible.Wreaths on Veterans Graves

The ceremony was closed by a prayer led by retired Navy Chaplin William Houston from Cayucos and taps played by Afghanistan veteran Marine Sergeant Jimmy Galvan from Cambria.

Waltman said that on Saturday, more than 226,000 wreaths were placed on graves in Arlington National Cemetery and more than 700,000 on graves of veterans in over 1000 cemeteries in the United States and in 24 countries. The wreaths are provided by community and individual donations to Wreaths Across America.

Wreaths Across America originated when Morrill Worcester started donating wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery in 1992. His company, the Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington Maine, had extra wreaths at the end of the season. The memory of a childhood visit to the national cemetery prompted him to donate the wreaths. He continued to donate wreaths every year until 2005 when someone took a photograph of the wreaths in the snow at Arlington. The photograph went viral and donations started rolling in. In 2007 his wife, Karen, established the Wreaths Across America and in 2008 Congress declared the second Saturday in December as Wreaths Across America Day.Marine Sgt. Galvan preparing to play taps

Wreath laying ceremonies in memory of veterans continues take place on the second Saturday in December, including a wreath laying ceremony on the Tomb of the Unknown in the Arlington National Cemetery. “Keoni Fisher, one of our recent Paso Robles High School graduates is currently serving at Arlington with the 3rd Infantry Regiment,” states Waltman. “This regiment is charged with protecting the Tomb of the Unknown.”

To sponsor a wreath for Wreaths Across America, or for more information, contact Ron Waltman at slowreath@gmail.com.

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About the author: Reporter Jackie Iddings

Jackie Iddings is a contributing reporter and photographer for the Paso Robles Daily News.

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