Jan Urfer, secretary with the Michael Trebert Chapter of the Daughter of the American Revolution, works with scouts Hunter Halverson and Cayden Beauregard from Sequim Troop 90 to clean headstones and grave markers at Sequim View Cemetery on Nov 28. Members of the chapter and scout troop were busy preparing the cemetery for a Wreaths Across America event slated for Dec. 19. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Jan Urfer, secretary with the Michael Trebert Chapter of the Daughter of the American Revolution, works with scouts Hunter Halverson and Cayden Beauregard from Sequim Troop 90 to clean headstones and grave markers at Sequim View Cemetery on Nov 28. Members of the chapter and scout troop were busy preparing the cemetery for a Wreaths Across America event slated for Dec. 19. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Veteran honors stretch across America to Sequim

Wreath event in planned for Dec. 19

Local veterans will get special honors this month, in the skies above and on the earth below.

A number of local organizations will come together to present Wreaths Across America — an event that recognizes veterans by echoing the laying of wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia — starting at 9 a.m. Dec. 19 at Sequim View Cemetery, 1505 Sequim-Dungeness Way.

Members of the Michael Trebert Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution lead the event that will be live-streamed at the Northwest Veterans Resource Center’s Facebookpage, www.facebook.com/nwvrc.

The event will include a color guard and flag line, a singing of the National Anthem, a guest speaker and a fly-over from U.S. Navy Growler jets, along with ceremonial presentations for each branch of the U.S. military.

“It’s so nice to do this; they’re going to be doing this all across America,” noted Trish Bekkevar, a Michael Trebert Chapter member.

On Nov. 28, Bekkevar and other members of the Michael Trebert Chapter were at Sequim View Cemetery with members of Boy Scouts of America Troop 90, showing how to clean and preserve veterans’ markers and headstones.

“Since I’m a vet, one of the things I stress is to honor vets,” said Troop 90 scoutmaster Rene Nadon, who also will take part in the Wreaths Across America event.

Community members lay wreaths Dec. 19. Registration is required to attend in person at wreathsacrossamerica.org/WA0153.

Local veterans, scout troop members and others will lay wreaths at each of the 577 headstones and grave markers at Sequim View Cemetery, event coordinator Judy Tordini said.

Locals may notice wreaths will on Dec. 19 be placed in other locations that honor veterans, Tordini said — including the veterans memorial at Sequim Museum & Arts, 544 N. Sequim Ave., at Marlyn Nelson County Park at Port Williams, and the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s veterans memorial in Blyn.

This year, Wreaths Across America ceremonies will be held across the country at more than 2,500 participating locations, volunteer executive director Karen Worcester said.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” said Carol Weiler, a Michael Trebert Chapter DAR member since 2010.

She said the group was looking for a project for 2020 and picked Wreaths Across America. It is the only DAR chapter in Washington state to sponsor the event.

Wreaths Across America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded to continue and expand the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery begun by Maine businessman Morrill Worcester in 1992.

“We are so grateful to the good people of this great nation for participating in the first Wreaths Across America in Sequim to continue the mission … to ‘Remember, Honor and Teach,’ ” Tordini said.

While it’s Sequim’s first participation in the program, Wreaths Across America ceremonies elsewhere may look a little different as the national nonprofit looks to meet nationally recommended safety guidelines along with state- , local- and cemetery-specific safety measures implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sequim event

Ceremonies are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. with 30 seconds of silence, followed by four U.S. Navy Growler jets from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island flying over to further honor the fallen veterans.

Port Angeles High School’s national junior ROTC color guard will post the colors, followed by the singing of the national anthem by Amanda Bacon.

Justice Beebe, assistant senior patrol leader for Sequim’s Troop 90, will lead the Pledge of Allegiance, and Nancy Zimmerman, Post 62 American Legion chaplain, will follow with an invocation.

Cmdr. Lorri Gilchrist (U.S. Navy, retired) will offer opening remarks with Clallam County Legion Riders Post 29 performing a flag line. Guest speaker will be Lt. Col. Tom Coonelly (U.S. Army, retired).

The military ceremony will proceed with ceremonial decor laying of a live balsam wreath from each branch of the U.S. Armed Services by local dignitaries. They include: Staff Sgt. Jessica Elizalde-Broders (U.S. Army veteran); Cmdr. Bill Benedict (U.S. Navy, retired), Lance Cpl. Holly Rowan (U.S. Marine Corps veteran); Cmdr. Joan Snaith (U.S. Coast Guard, Air Station Port Angeles); Sgt. Rene Nadon (U.S. Air Force, retired); Lt. Stanley E. Smith (U.S. Merchant Marine deck officer), and Col. Randy Roberts (U.S. Air Force, retired) representing prisoners of war.

Gilchrist will offer closing remarks, followed by a gun salute by the Mt. Olympus Detachment Marine Corps League, and “Taps” from the Marine Corps League.

After Port Angeles NJROTC members retire the colors, bagpiper Ricky McKenzie will play “Amazing Grace.” Volunteers then will take wreaths to the markers and headstones, saying each veteran’s name before placing the wreath.

Those unable to attend can view the event at facebook.com/nwvrc, and photos from the event will be posted online at tinyurl.com/SequimDAR.

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