The holidays can be difficult for those who are separated from their families – it can also be difficult for members of the military who have died with families who cannot come to visit.
Gone but never forgotten, Wreaths Across America aims to pay tribute to those who served their country by placing wreaths on gravestones at Comal Cemetery this holiday season.
“It’s great to be able to give them (a way to be remembered when a family is long gone and no one visits the grave),” said Jennifer Brinkerhoff.
Brinkerhoff has been a part of Wreaths Across America since 2017 – her first experience was one she would never forget.
Although Brinkerhoff did not play a major role in the program her first year, she was part of the parade, driving behind the convoy delivering wreaths to the cemetery.
For the past few years Brinkerhoff has volunteered time to unload wreaths and this year he is helping to raise money to place wreaths on the graves of local heroes.
New Braunfels is celebrating its eighth year in the national program and is one of 3,400 locations participating in Wreaths Across America.
“We are forever grateful for the thousands of supporters who dedicate their time and effort to fulfilling our mission throughout the year,” said Karen Worcester, executive director of Wreaths Across America. “These individuals and their communities know the value of remembering those who died, honoring those currently serving and teaching the next generation about the sacrifices made for our freedom every day. “
Comal Cemetery currently has 533 sponsored wreaths to place on graves in the cemetery dating back to the 1860s, but they need over 2,000 more to reach their goal.
To help reach its goal, Wreaths Across America pledges to donate a wreath for every two wreaths purchased.
Once wreaths are purchased they will be driven down from Maine and delivered to the cemetery.
As soon as the trucks arrive with the wreaths on board, volunteers, along with members of New Braunfels Jeeps and Drinks and the community, will escort the truck safely to the cemetery and help unload the wreaths.
“(The marches) are touching and the importance (of it all),” Brinkerhoff said.
Hard work by volunteers culminates with National Wreaths Across America Day on Saturday, December 17 when 3,400 locations honor and remember the lives of those who served.
The New Braunfels ceremony begins at 11 a.m. at Comal Cemetery where eight additional wreaths with flags, representing each military branch being honored, will be presented.
The New Braunfels High School color guard along with the ROTC will perform at the ceremony, which will include several guest speakers such as Brinkerhoff followed by a few words from the local VFW commander.
Following the playing of tapes, the ceremony ends with those present placing wreaths on gravestones.
“What you do is honor and you remember,” Brinkerhoff said. “What you do is when you lay the wreath down, you say the name and their rank, and you place the wreath on the grave so that they never be forgotten.”
Wreaths Across America New Braunfels still needs thousands of wreaths to be placed on the headstones of every military member buried in the historic cemetery, and they only have until Tuesday, November 29 to make it happen.
To sponsor a wreath or learn more about Wreaths Across America visit https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/pages/14963/Overview/?relatedId=29802.
National Wreaths Across America Day in New Braunfels begins at 11 a.m. at Comal Cemetery on Saturday, December 17.