On December 15 members of the New Windsor Fire Department came together to assist in the Wreaths Across America Project. The project places wreaths on the gravesites of veterans at cemeteries across the country. The article below was the Carroll County Times' coverage of the event.
Article from the Carroll County Times-
Article by Jennifer Turiano:
Despite the rainy weather, Carroll County residents laid almost 1,000 wreaths at various cemeteries participating in this year’s Wreaths Across America ceremony. Volunteers gathered at Deer Park Methodist Cemetery for the second year, but to others sites for the first time — Ellsworth Cemetery, Pipe Creek Cemetery, St. James’ Cemetery, St. Paul’s Cemetery, St. Luke’s Cemetery, Mt. Joy Cemetery, Uniontown Cemetery and Meadow Branch Cemetery.
The ceremony honors a tradition which began with Arlington National Cemetery, but was spread across the nation and abroad in 2007 when the owner of the Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine, Morrill Worcester, founded Wreaths Across America to donate wreaths to more than 1,500 cemeteries across the nation to fulfill a simple mission: remember, honor and teach.
“The rain, it’s just tears from heaven,” said Donna Babylon of Babylon Vault Company in New Windsor. “The boots on the ground, they didn’t have a choice in what weather they served.”
Babylon organized the ceremonies for the latter seven cemeteries, collecting donations for more than 800 wreaths this year, but spent her Saturday at Pipe Creek Cemetery where about 50 volunteers laid 131 wreaths on the graves of fallen veterans — including her father and uncle.
“I wanted my father to be with me,” she said, tears in her eyes.
Guy Graham Babylon was a veteran, enlisting in the U.S. Navy in 1936, and died in 2011 at 93 years old. His brother, George Elmer Babylon, was buried at sea in 1942 at 28 years old, after being killed in action while serving his country on the USS Vincennes in the South Pacific. At the opening of the ceremony, 13-year-old MacKenzie Trout volunteered to sing the national anthem. Trout is an eighth-grade student at Northwest Middle School in Taneytown, where she has sung the national anthem twice for its Veterans Day assembly. “I love it,” she said. “My dad’s always helped me support the veterans and I think it’s very important that we do.” She came to the wreath-laying ceremony with her parents, Kelly and Wayne Trout, and her father is a Marine veteran himself. He served from 1985 to 1995. U.S. Navy veteran Fred Bohn, a lifelong Union Bridge resident who served two tours in Vietnam, also came to lay a wreath in memory of family. His brother-in-law, Terry Higgs, is among the veterans buried at Pipe Creek Cemetery. “I came here to honor those who never made it back to our soil. I went to Arlington last year and it made a big impact on me; it was the first time,” he said Saturday. “I am amazed at the turnout [here today].” Even newer residents came to participate. Army veteran Sheen Maldonado has only lived in Eldersburg for three years, but said she felt it important to come out and volunteer at Pipe Creek Cemetery this year with her 11-year-old daughter Ellysia. “It gives a little appreciation for what they did. And what better way to do that than during the holidays,” Maldonado said. “I think it’s fabulous even the smaller cemeteries are participating.”
Last year Deer Park Methodist Cemetery was the only cemetery in the county to participate in Wreaths Across America, as its board of trustees president, Mel Blizzard, brought the tradition to Carroll. That year about 250 volunteers came out for the ceremony, in which 140 wreaths were laid on veterans’ graves in Smallwood. This year participation has multiplied with approximately 40 volunteers laying wreaths on the graves of 15 veterans at Ellsworth Cemetery, according to Knights of Columbus member Dan Kloss — and almost 450 volunteers laying more than 800 wreaths across the seven ceremonies organized by Babylon Vault Company, according to Babylon. “We started fundraising [business-to-business] and people opened up their wallets, it was amazing,” she said. “We thought we had our wreaths funded 70 percent, but by last Tuesday we realized we were 100 percent.”
And she hopes the event will grow even bigger in the future. “Next year we want to expand it even more,” Babylon told the Times after the ceremony. “We have an email list and we want to get the community much more involved.”