Members of the Randall Collins Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3108, along with the Patriot Riders of America, Chapter 5, of Waldo County, and Sons of American Legion Post 43, paid respect to fallen veterans Dec. 19.

The event coincided with the Wreaths Across America wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia Saturday. This year because of concerns over COVID-19, the annual Wreaths Across America caravan, which draws large crowds, was shortened and scheduled stops were not open to the public.

The local caravan began at the Belfast VFW Post, then traveled a short distance to the American Legion Post, to Grove Cemetery, also in Belfast, and culminated with a larger event at the Old Unity Cemetery.

Each stop included the laying of wreaths, a 21-gun salute and a bugler playing "Taps."

Veterans Martin Randall and Herbert Collins, the namesakes of the Belfast VFW Post, and also Frank Hazeltine of the American Legion, were honored with wreaths Saturday at Grove Cemetery in Belfast.

In Unity, volunteer location coordinator Melanie Cole said each ceremonial wreath placed for a veteran is a "celebration of their lives."

"The freedom you enjoy today here comes at a cost," she said. "We thank those who gave their lives so we could be free."

The wreaths were escorted to the village cemetery by the Unity Fire Department and Ambulance Service.

Members of the Mount View Chamber Singers sang the national anthem, and members of the the MVHS chapter of the National Honor Society, along with community volunteers, displayed U.S. flags.

Tammy Sweetland, public relations officer and secretary for the Patriot Riders, said honoring veterans "strengthens us."

"Veterans die twice," Sweetland said, "once when they are taking their last breaths, and once when they are forgotten.

"We owe a debt," she said, "for keeping us safe and free."