Maj. Gen. Darren Werner clears snow from a marker before placing a wreath. Werner was the guest speaker at the ceremony. This year, more than 3,700 wreaths were presented.

Maj. Gen. Darren Werner clears snow from a marker before placing a wreath. Werner was the guest speaker at the ceremony. This year, more than 3,700 wreaths were presented.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Over 3,700 wreaths laid locally as part of national ceremonies

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published January 10, 2022

 Volunteers walk the cemetery, placing  wreaths on the graves of veterans after a Wreaths Across America ceremony Dec. 18 at Clinton Township’s Resurrection Cemetery.

Volunteers walk the cemetery, placing wreaths on the graves of veterans after a Wreaths Across America ceremony Dec. 18 at Clinton Township’s Resurrection Cemetery.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Bagpipes played “Amazing Grace” as the volunteers assembled, sloshing through the snow.

Locally, this year’s Wreaths Across America event took place Dec. 18 at Clinton Township’s Resurrection Cemetery.

Now in its 10th year in Clinton Township, Wreaths Across America brings together those who have served with those who currently serve, and others, like youth groups and organizations.

The Wreaths Across America website indicates that its mission to remember, honor and teach is carried out by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as at more than 2,500 additional locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea and abroad.

“Our kids need to know what the veterans have done for their freedom,” event organizer Karen Straffon said. “They can’t be forgotten just because they are in a grave.”

In 2012, about 728 wreaths were laid in Resurrection. In 2018, that number jumped to more than 3,000 wreaths. This year, more than 3,700 wreaths were presented. Straffon estimates that around 450 volunteers were on hand.

She noted that funds are raised all year for the wreaths, which come from Maine.

In past years, an honors ceremony was held at Fern Hill Country Club. Due to the pandemic, the ceremony coincided with the outdoor gathering.

A wooden flag made by combat veterans from Flags of Valor was presented to Clinton Township for its continued support of veterans, and to Sgt. Adam Thurau, an Iraq War veteran.

“We honored him for the work he’s done,” Straffon said. “He’s been working so hard. His story is horrendous, and he has a wife and five kids, too.”

She added that in Iraq, Thurau was driving a vehicle and was the only one who survived.

“We want to bring the PTSD out in the open that he’s been working on it, but has a ways to go,” Straffon said.

Army Maj. Gen. Darren Werner, commanding general, U.S. Army Tank automotive and Armaments Command, Army Materiel Command, was the guest speaker.

“When I get the opportunity to come out and be part of one of the amazing memorial recognitions at Clinton Township, I am very happy to come and participate,” he said.

“As your general, assigned to Michigan and to command the Detroit Arsenal and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Command, I am extremely proud. As a young individual who grew up in the Thumb and spent my formative years going to school here, I am proud to be back.”

Werner said out of all the memorial events that occur at the cemetery, Wreaths Across America has to be the most joyous.

“As we go out and celebrate the lives of those who have touched us in the past, those individuals and our family and friends who have served our nation, to come out and remember them during this very special time,” the two-star general commented.

Werner said it’s a day of remembrance, honor and thanks.

“We remember all the brave men and women of our armed forces who have committed themselves to selfless service to protect and defend our Constitution,” he said. “That’s a freedom we all hold dearly.”

Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon said it has become an annual tradition to lay wreaths on the graves of deceased veterans through December.

“It’s a way to express our appreciation and pay tribute to the sacrifices made for our country by our servicemen and -women,” he said. “December is a time of traditional family get-togethers.”

Cannon called the event a great learning opportunity for children to understand the sacrifices made by military members.

The laying of the ceremonial wreaths was done by members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Merchant Marine, Canadian Army, Air Force, Space Force and POW/MIA.

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