(Sarah Reed/The Concordian)
Fred Niblock, of American Legion Post No. 131, spoke of the sacrifices made for American freedom during the annual Wreaths Across America ceremony at the Missouri Veterans Cemetery in Higginsville. He quoted Ronald Reagon, stating, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it (to) our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same, or one day, we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was like in the United States when men were free."
And that sentiment seemed to echo throughout the chapel this past Saturday as visitors overflowed outside and onto surrounding walkways.
"We are together here today ... to remember that we are one nation with one flag," Niblock said. "We are all proud to be Americans, that live in a free society made of many people, many races and many walks of life. The freedoms we enjoy today have not come without a price."
The ceremony reflected that price, as seven participants placed Christmas wreaths before the crowd in honor of armed forces servicemen and women. Heads bowed together in prayer and the sound of Taps reverberated through the hall.
Niblock noted some of the liberties Americans have.
"We can worship as we see fit. We can raise our children to believe as we do. We can travel from one end of this great nation to the other and not have to ask permission to go," he said. "We have the right to succeed and we have the right to fail at whatever endeavor we wish to pursue. ... We thank those who gave their lives to keep us free, and we shall not forget you."
Bob Pierceall, of the Sons of the American Revolution, offered an SAR President's Proclomation. This year marked the fifth year the organization has participated in the ceremony.
"We are ... the beneficiaries of (the American Revolution) legacy," Pierceall said of Americans. "The Wreaths Across America ceremony today is symbolic of how we honor those American heros. The heroic deeds of the servicemen and women who served, or will serve our nation, will long be remembered."
There were more than 750 memorial services conducted in the U.S. this past weekend. According to organizers, the Higginsville event has grown in the past four years. Wreaths Across America was incepted after the Worcester Wreath Company from Harrington, ME, began donating wreaths for the headstones at Arlington National Cemetery more than 20 years ago.
In Higginsville, wreath carriers' hands went up in quiet salutes as they placed their flags. Later, they placed them on designated headstones. According to organizers, wreaths would be placed in all 50 states and at 24 national cemeteries on foreign soil.