Volunteers place wreaths on military members' graves

December 17, 2023
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Cadet Major Jason Randoe checks the Mansfield High JROTC cadets before the ceremony Saturday.

By Amanda Rogers

Mansfield Record

Approximately 100 people gathered Saturday morning to remember those who served in the United States military.

The Mansfield Cemetery Association hosted Wreaths Across America with volunteers placing green wreaths on the graves of 408 military members buried at the cemetery at the corner of Burl Ray and Cemetery roads.

All of the wreaths were sponsored by community members for the second year, according to the cemetery association.

Volunteers Houston Mitchell and Mike Leyman lay wreaths on the graves of twin brothers who died on the same day during World War II.

“The people that fought for us, it is only right that we remember them,” said Mansfield Mayor Michael Evans, a U.S. Navy veteran, as he addressed the gathering.

The Mansfield High School JROTC presented the colors and placed wreaths at the cemetery pavilion in honor of each branch of the military, plus one for military members listed as prisoners of war or missing in action.

“Lying here before us are the men and women who gave their lives so that we can live in freedom,” said Sgt. First Class James Barclay of the Mansfield Army Recruiting Station. “We shall not forget. We shall remember.

“President Ronald Reagan said ‘Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction,’” Barclay said. “Today we show a united front of gratitude as we honor the men and women who have served, and remember the value of freedom.”

Mansfield Cemetery Association President Paula McKay thanked the people who sponsored the wreaths and the volunteers who came to lay them.

“We encourage every volunteer who places a wreath on a veteran’s grave to say that veteran’s name,” McKay said. “It keeps their memory alive. To the children here today, the freedoms we enjoy, they’re not free. Some day you may be called to pay the cost.”

Mansfield High School JROTC Cadet Major Jason Randoe takes the event very seriously.

"This is one of the biggest events we do," Randoe said. "It's a very solemn experience, very inspiring. I feel like I owe respect to the people here."

Alexia Shaye of San Diego was visiting her mother, aunt and step-father in Midlothian when the family heard about the event and decided volunteer to lay wreaths.

"We just wanted to pay our respects and say thank you for everything," she said.

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