During this annual event, people place wreaths on more than 1,300 graves in the PA Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Veterans Memorial Cemetery. This is in coordination with the national Wreaths Across America program.
The cold and wet weather did not stop more than 100 people from commemorated veterans on Saturday. “It’s important to remember these soldiers and sailors who defended our country,” said Mary Jane Koenig, Erie resident.
Mary Jane Koenig is one of the many who placed wreaths on more than a thousand gravestones in the Veterans Memorial Cemetery. “I am honoring my family members who served in all the wars from the revolutionary on through,” said Koenig.
Before volunteers put the wreaths on the gravestones, they are encouraged to say the veteran’s name out loud. “They say a veteran dies twice, once in the battlefield and second when their name is never mentioned again, so on the second Saturday in December, we make sure that that doesn’t happen,” said Ken Vybiral, volunteer resource coordinator, PA Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home.
The PA Soldiers’ and Sailors’ home is one of six veterans homes operated by the state Department of Military and Veterans affairs. “Our gravestones date way back to the civil war, so truly it is the one day all year that they will get any sort of commemoration or recognition for their service,” Vybiral added.
PSSH is also the only veterans home that maintain an active veterans cemetery. The wreaths were bought through donations from community members and organizations throughout the community.