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Thousands of Veterans Honored With Wreath-Laying at Southview Cemetery
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
05:40PM / Thursday, December 21, 2023
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Volunteers for the annual Wreaths Across America event put out more than 3,000 wreaths and one rock at the gravesites of local veterans.

A ceremonial wreath laying for each branch of the armed forces is held in the Drury High auditorium on Saturday. See more photos here.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — More than 3,000 wreaths with bright red bows and one rock were laid on the graves of veterans in Southview Cemetery on Saturday. 
The local Wreaths Across America effort is in its sixth year honoring the city's veterans. Donations are raised to purchase the wreaths that will stay at Southview until mid-January.
"My father was a World War Two vet and my brother-in-law was in the Army as well. My brother served with the National Guard for six years," said Nancy Lescarbeau as she searched out markers in the cemetery. "And it's a good thing to do."
Lescarbeau's niece Angie Kirouac and her daughter, Emily, had come up from Chesterfield to volunteer "because it's a patriotic thing and a joyous thing to do."
"We came today because my father was a disabled veteran. He served 11 years in the Army and passed away in 2018," Kirouac said. "This is a way to honor his service and those who have served."
This year's event began with a ceremony in the Drury High School auditorium with the presentation of ceremonial wreaths for each of the armed forces, a color guard and patriotic selections performed by the Drury band. The Rev. David Andrews of First Baptist Church gave the opening prayer and the Rev. Carolyn Peck of First Congregational the closing one. 
"Wreaths Across America's mission is to remember, honor and teach," said Amy Christian, a volunteer with the group. "Remember the fallen. Honor those who have served and teach the next generation. 
"Remembering the fallen is the one that you do most often and probably the easiest and probably the easiest. We do this every Memorial Day, as well as today. Being here today, participating in the ceremony, and helping to lay over 3,000 wreaths and one rock for a Jewish veteran on the graves in Southview, we ensure that all veterans are not forgotten."
She encouraged those who in the audience to remember those who are serving away from home in often dangerous situations and their families — recalling her own worries when her husband was in Iraq and Afghanistan — and  to understand what the nation stood to lose "if we become too complacent." 
Christian offered three challenges: to write down a name from a veteran's grave and learn more about them, to find a veteran and get to know them and their families, and to talk to the next generation about the freedoms they have today. 
"I challenge you to find a veteran or a family member of a veteran and talk to them about what freedom means to them," she said. "While the word freedom has the word free right in it, it was not just given to us. It was fought for and some of those who fought, paid with their life, while others were forever changed because of it."
Daniel Sumy said he and some co-workers at General Dynamics had volunteered. 
"We have a lot of veterans at work," he said. "So this is just kind of supporting co-workers and supporting the troops."
He was among the dozens of volunteers who spread out across the cemetery from the drop points where boxes of wreaths were placed. They were assigned sections and sought out the grave markers denoting veterans; after saying the person's name and thanking them, they placed the wreaths. 
"It's just a tremendous outpouring of volunteers from North Adams and actually Northern Berkshire who have really made this an event that they can be proud of," said state Rep. John Barrett III, who attended the ceremony. "It has grown in size and they're putting out 3,000 wreaths today at a cost of $55,000, which means that a lot of people in Berkshire County participated in this. It's a nice event."
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