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First Wreaths Across America ceremony Dec. 14 at Pickens Cemetery

First Wreaths Across America ceremony Dec. 14 at Pickens Cemetery

    12.17.19 | Community

    Members of the Wren High School Navy JROTC present the colors as the Pledge of Allegiance is given at the start of a wreath laying ceremony Dec. 14 at Pickens Cemetery near Easley, held as part of the nationwide Wreaths Across America observance.

    The Fort Prince George Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution and Southern Wesleyan University held the first Wreaths Across America Ceremony to be held at Pickens Cemetery near Easley Dec. 14.

    This ceremony, which honored 46 veterans from the Revolutionary War to World War II who are buried in this historical cemetery, was held as part of National Wreaths Across America Day, which was being observed at more than 1,100 memorial sites.

    In attendance were 14 service and/or historical organizations to lay wreaths honoring the veterans. Along with Fort Prince George Daughters and Southern Wesleyan officials were Mayor Mac Martin of Central, Children of the American Revolution, American Legion Posts 52 and 151, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 52, Daughters of the American Colonists, Sons and Daughters of Confederate Veterans, South Carolina Association of Veterans, General Society of Mayflower Descendants, two descendants of Confederate Soldiers that are buried there, and Fire Chief Tommy Keaton of the Three and Twenty Fire Department.

    The Wren High School Navy JROTC Color Guard, led by Master Chief Petty Officer Clifford Bailey, began the Ceremony, presenting the colors and presenting arms at the laying of each wreath.

    According to Ann Warmuth from Fort Prince George National Society Daughters of the American Revolution and the Mayflower Society, 65 people attended the event.

    Caleb Southern of Southern Wesleyan’s Admissions Office, also the master of ceremonies, led in the Pledge of Allegiance and Donna Pittman, vice president for the S.C. Association of Veterans Administrators and Southern Wesleyan University VA administrator, led in a prayer to remember those who have served and continue to serve in the armed forces. Scott Drury, Southern Wesleyan’s vice president for advancement, gave remarks on behalf of the university and thanked ceremony sponsors Carolina Corvettes of Greenville, Daughters of the American Colonists, Fort Prince George Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, family members and friends of the Pickens Cemetery, Lowes, and Tiger Lily Flowers of Clemson.

    Assisting in the Honor Wreath Ceremony was American Legion Post 151 Adjutant Willie Reid, presenting wreaths to be laid in remembrance or in honor of those who have served in the U.S. military.

    Dr. Robert Nash, U.S. Army Command Sargent Major, Retired, and also a retired Southern Wesleyan professor, laid a remembrance wreath in memory of those who served and are serving in the U.S. Army. Doug Masters of American Legion Post 151, U.S. Marine, Retired, laid a remembrance wreath in memory of those who served and are serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. Master Chief Petty Officer Clifford Bailey laid a remembrance wreath in memory of those who served and are serving in the U.S. Navy. Dr. Donald Warmuth, U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, Retired, laid a remembrance wreath in memory of those who served and are serving in the U.S. Air Force. American Legion Post 151 Commander Roger McNeely, U.S. Army Ranger, Retired, laid a remembrance wreath in memory of those who served and are serving in the U.S. Coast Guard. Ashley Wardlaw of Sons of the American Legion Post 151 laid a remembrance wreath in memory of those who served and are serving in the U.S. Merchant Marines. Diana Lynn McClung, U.S. Army, Retired, laid remembrance wreath in honor of the 93,129 U.S. service personnel from all branches of the service whose last known status was either Prisoner of War or Missing in Action.

    After the last wreath was laid, the Color Guard/Honor Guard ordered arms and the Taps was played.

    “Remember, we are not here today to ‘decorate graves,’ we are here to remember not their deaths, but their lives. Each wreath is a gift of appreciation from a grateful America,” Warmuth said. “These live balsam wreaths symbolize our honor to those who have served and are serving in the armed forces of our great nation and to their families who endure sacrifices everyday on our behalf.”

    Warmuth led those in attendance as they placed their hands over their hearts and each said a veteran’s name aloud and thanked them for their service. They then placed a wreath against their grave. 

    Warmuth then asked members of various historical, service and veterans organizations to place a wreath from their organizations: Mac Martin, mayor of the town of Central; Carolyn Nations, regent for the Fort Prince George Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution; Cameron Castor, president of the Dicey Langston Society, for the Children of the American Revolution; Harriet Nash for the Daughters of the American Colonists; Ken Nabors for the Sons of Confederate Veterans; Anne Sheriff for the United Daughters of the Confederacy, who is also head of the Clayton Genealogy Room at Southern Wesleyan University; Donna Pittman, vice president for the S.C. Association of Veterans Administrators; Kathleen Gillespie, for American Legion Auxiliary Unit 52; Anne Kilpatrick, for the General Society of Mayflower Descendants; Tommy Keaton, fire chief, for the Three and Twenty Fire Department; Navy Cadets for Wren High School JROTC; Carolina Corvette Club; and Michael and Theron Pickens, S.C. National Guard, in honor of their grandfathers, Col. Robert Pickens and Cpt. Robert Pickens. 

    For details about the Friends of Pickens Cemetery fundraising group, visit wreathsacrossamerica.org/pages/161722

    Another wreath-laying ceremony is planned for December, 2020. For details and to sponsor, contact the Southern Wesleyan University Advancement Office at (864) 644-5008 or . If you purchase two wreaths from Dec. 16, 2019 to Jan. 14, 2020, a donor will match your sponsorship and the cemetery will receive four wreaths.

    Read more about Pickens Cemetery.

    Southern Wesleyan University is a Christ-centered, student-focused learning community devoted to transforming lives by challenging students to be dedicated scholars and servant-leaders who impact the world for Christ. For details about degree programs, go online to swu.edu.

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