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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Reichley: Remembering and honoring those who served

  • A not so well known way to honor those who gave their lives in combat and other veterans is right around the corner. With details from Diana Pitts of Easton, I can share how readers can help in this worthwhile endeavor if they desire.
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  • A not so well known way to honor those who gave their lives in combat and other veterans is right around the corner. With details from Diana Pitts of Easton, I can share how readers can help in this worthwhile endeavor if they desire.
    Pitts provided details recently at a delightful lunch at the Towne Pub, hosted by mutual friend Lt. Col. (Ret) Chuck Hagemeister, one of Kansas' and Leavenworth's two Medal of Honor recipients, who has been involved in the project since it began in 2010.
    The nation-wide event will take place at 700 cemeteries across the United States the second Saturday in December, which this year is Dec. 14. The sponsoring organization is Wreaths Across America, whose aim is "about remembering those who served, honoring those who currently serve, and helping to inform our children of the reasons we have our freedom."
    Pitts' son, Army Cpl. David Unger, first Leavenworth native killed in Iraq in 2006, is buried at the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery. Pitts is the location coordinator for what will happen at the fort cemetery that day.
    The organization will sponsor eight wreaths for the five armed services, POW/MIA, Merchant Marine, and a Gold Star Wreath. A Gold Star family is one that has lost an immediate family member on active duty service to our nation.
    So how to help? Wreaths cost money, and any member of the public can purchase one that will be placed on Dec. 14th at the fort. The ceremony is open to the public, so you are also invited to go see what happens. You can even help lay the wreaths.
    The initial wreath laying will be at the cemetery's flag pole at 11 a.m. Following the ceremonial laying of the eight wreaths, one will then be placed on each of 3,800 graves in section M of the cemetery.
    Currently only 1,400 have been sponsored. To sponsor one costs $15, but for every two ordered, the national organization pays for a third. So for $30 you can provide three wreaths.
    You can make a check out to Wreaths Across America and send to Betty Wright, 7312 Bond, Shawnee, Kan., 66203. Individuals, groups, organizations, and businesses are invited to become contributors.
    Everyone is invited to the ceremony and those who desire are further invited to assist in putting the wreaths at the selected graves. For those not familiar with the fort cemetery and using GPS its address is 395 Biddle Avenue, Fort Leavenworth, Kan., 66027.
    For those without GPS, enter the fort's main gate, turn left at the second light at Hoge Barracks, and you'll see it on your right front at the first stop sign. This is an excellent opportunity for anyone with a family member or friend currently serving to honor their service by providing a wreath on the grave of one who has already given his or her "last full measure of devotion," as a great man once said.
    Page 2 of 2 - Anyone desiring more information about Wreaths Across America can check the website
    http://waa.convio.net/goto/KSGSF001.
    If you have questions for Pitts, her email is pitts_diana@yahoo.com, or telephone (913) 773-8683. She'd be happy to hear from you, and better yet to meet you at the fort's cemetery on the big day, Dec. 14th.
    John Reichley is a retired Army officer and retired Department of the Army civilian employee.

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