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A surplus of wreaths for veterans' graves - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

A surplus of wreaths for veterans' graves

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BARRE, Vt. -

Every year, members of the Civil Air Patrol lay wreaths at the grave sites of veterans. In Barre, usually they place a couple dozen but Saturday, they placed a couple thousand.

Unpacking was the just beginning. More than 300 boxes each filled with multiple holiday wreaths. All of them -- soon to be laid upon the grave sites of veterans at Hope Cemetery in Barre.

"For me to be able to salute my father for the service he's done for our country - I'm really proud that he's my father," said Captain Richard Beach, with Civil Air Patrol said.

The last time Captain Beach spoke to his father, he had just told him he enlisted in the Air National Guard. Now, he shares what he's learned about service -- passing it along to cadets in the Civil Air Patrol -- the auxiliary of the United States Air Force.

Its mission -- to remember and honor veterans each December -- by placing holiday wreaths along grave markers of those who served.

"It's just an honor and it's great to be able to give back to them,” said Gabriel Wendel, a Cadet Technical Sergeant.

The wreaths are put together by a company in Maine and brought to locations across the country each year.

Civil Air Patrol wings hold fundraisers to order and pay for the wreaths.

"Usually we have a hard time selling the wreaths here locally. We can be at grocery stores, outside, trying to sell them. We don't get many takers," Captain Beach said.

But few takers didn't matter this year -- as they found out they were being given many more than expected for free.

Laying wreaths isn't new but the number is. Usually, they only have about 50. But this year, they have more than 2,000.

The extra donation meant that for the first time every single veteran grave would be honored with a wreath.

"If there's multiple of the little markers on their graves, we'll lay multiple for that soldier or soldiers," Wendel said.

Many of those who place the wreaths have generations of family members who served in the military. They say that this is one way they get to say 'thank you.'

"I mean I just wanted to honor everyone that who has died in action or is missing in action because it's just really something that is special to me," said Olivia Varret, a Civil Air Patrol Cadet.

A special salute in silence, ensuring that veterans never get forgotten around the holidays.

"I believe that it's so important that we need to honor what everyone has done for us. It's our way of life that they protect everyday," said Jackson Flinn, a Civil Air Patrol Cadet.

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