Wreaths honor Veterans locally and nationwide
As follows, some relatives shared memories of their loved ones with The Luminary: ROBERT MANN was honored by daughter Christie Mann who said the disabled Army veteran had for 24 years, been post master at Picture Rocks. According to Christie, “Dad began his duties in 1965 when the building was erected serving until his death in 1981.” Christie, like many others, saw the on-line post for the local project, and some years ago had traveled to Arlington Cemetery in Virginia to witness a wreath laying ceremony there.
LEROY ‘Red’ CONFER’s wreath was placed by daughter Dusty Miller and three-year-old Kingsley Kerstetter, the WWII Navy man’s great-great granddaughter. Miller said, “This photo of Kingsley will be one for the ages. I had also been to Arlington Cemetery with daughter Steph and granddaughter Mary Jo. It was a wonderful thing to see trailer loads of wreaths unloaded where we were offered wreaths to place on any grave. To my knowledge, our family has no one at Arlington, but it was on my bucket list to do as I think our veterans need honored more. My brother, Charles ‘Chuck’ Confer, followed dad’s example by also serving in the Navy.”
The NEWMAN gravesite has no connection to Sierra and mother Deb Sullivan, but was just where the photographer found them. As only the surname is seen and not the given names, we gleaned information from the book, “Cemeteries east of the Loyalsock” a publication by the Lycoming County Genealogical Society. Several Newman veterans are listed for Picture Rocks cemetery including William G. of WWI; Charles, Collins, and Paul I., all of WWII, and John O. Newman of the Korean Conflict.
JOHN VAN BUSKIRK, a Korean War Air Force veteran, had his wreath placed by grandson Josh Fry. Honoring WWII Army veteran CARL CAMPBELL was granddaughter Ashley (Campbell) Miller. Joining near the end of the war, Carl remained stateside. Beatrice (Gansell) Tarin placed greens for her father STUART GANSELL, part of a crew flying bombing mission during WWII. Also CHARLES GANSELL, honored by daughter Crystal (Gansell) Whitcomb.
Sierra Sullivan, who organized the first time area event locally, is the great-granddaughter of veteran Wayne Croman. Interred elsewhere, Croman is an ancestor from her paternal line. Sierra and her mother have also visited Arlington Cemetery’s wreath laying ceremonies.
Also in attendance was Joe Hamm, (PA State House Representative R-84), who participated in the event. Carrying out the local project was made more challenging as cemetery driveways remained unplowed to navigate through the 20 or so inches from a recent snowfall.
The WAA mission statement is to “Remember – Honor – Teach.” Each year, the wreaths are crafted from tips sheared from balsam fir trees. In an effort to keep the trees in continuous production, tips are clipped every three years.
Columbia Falls, Maine is the location of the WAA National Museum where the 1800 square-foot building is a forum to store and display donated military items. According to its director, “The museum offers a place for comfort and healing.”