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Veterans' service honored at Wreaths Across America event in Chesnee

Herald-Journal - 12/21/2020

Dec. 21—Christmas wreaths were placed on the graves of 44 veterans Saturday at the Cooley Springs Baptist Church cemetery in Chesnee to honor their sacrifice and service.

It was part of a larger Wreaths Across America event that was held at more than 1,200 locations nationwide and at national cemeteries overseas. Founded in 2008, Wreaths Across America asks volunteers to place wreaths on veterans' graves on the second or third Saturday in December each year.

Arthur Hartzog Sr. of Chesnee was among the volunteers who placed a wreath at the cemetery.

"It's nice to know we can remember veterans at this time of year in this way and it's a respectful and great thing to do," Hartzog said.

Eli Bab of Greer, who is a member of Boy Scouts of America Troop 11, also participated in the event.

"This was my first time doing this and it was a really great experience," Bab said. "It gives us a great opportunity to respect all fallen veterans and it means a lot to us to get out here and do that."

During the ceremony, members from American Legion Post 200 Honor Guard played "Taps" and performed a military gun salute. The Gaffney High School JROTC posted and retired the colors.

Several area veterans attended the ceremony to show their support and thank those who had served.

Terry Mcintyre of Chesnee served in the U.S. Air Force from 1974 to 1994.

"I wanted to come out to support everyone and it's a great honor for us to do this," Mcintyre said. "It means a lot to honor those who served the country."

The ceremony was humbling for Johnny Marlor of Chesnee who served in the U.S. Army from 1961 to 1968. He moved from North Carolina to Chesnee in 2018 and continues to be active in American Legion Post 48 which hosted the Wreaths Across America event at 950 Martin Camp Road, Chesnee.

Marlor was excited to see other veterans at the event.

"It's wonderful to get to talk to them and it's a blessing to meet people," Marlor said. "The ceremony humbles you and makes all of us proud to be Americans."

Some of the veterans' graves that received a wreath included Joe Fowler, U.S. Army PVT; James Lee Copeland, U.S. Navy MN3; Virgil Blackwell, U.S. Army PVT; and William Edward Parris, U.S. Army Air Corps PFC.

"We have so many veterans that need to be recognized," said Sheila Smith, American Legion Post 48 Commander. "They sacrificed for us. My whole family is military and we have veterans in our post that are very patriotic."

The Rev. Dave Deland of Cooley Springs Baptist Church said a prayer during the ceremony and encouraged everyone to continue appreciating the service of veterans. A moment of silence was held prior to wreaths being placed on veterans' graves.

"I want you to remember why you are here today. Why we are able to gather and have the freedom of worship and freedom to honor these loved ones because of the sacrifices of many who have gone before us and many sitting with us here today," Deland said. "Each one had a story. Each one had hopes and dreams and each put those aside to serve our country."


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