Fallen veterans were honored Dec. 18 at wreath-laying ceremonies in Belfast and Unity to coincide with National Wreaths Across America Day.

In Unity, many people braved the chilly weather Saturday morning to come together at Village Cemetery at 11 a.m., including members of Randall Collins VFW Post 3108 and Frank D. Hazeltine Post 43 American Legion, both of Belfast; Benjamin Berry Post 50 American Legion of Unity; Fire and Ambulance services of Unity; and the Patriot Riders of Maine, among others.

Mount View High School Honor Society seniors led the crowd in the pledge of allegiance, and Holly Parker sang the national anthem.

State Sen. Glenn “Chip” Curry, D-Waldo, offered his “sincere gratitude and respect” for veterans gathered as well as those buried in the community cemetery. “We owe a debt that cannot be repaid,” he said, echoing his words earlier in the day at a similar ceremony in Belfast.

Organizer Melanie Cole, Wreaths Across America’s Unity location coordinator, said freedom does not come free, but at a price. “It is because of their selfless acts that we can gather here today,” she said. “We will never forget.”

Members of every branch of the armed services laid wreaths to honor veterans of the Marines, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Coast Guard, Army and Merchant Marine.

Duncan Milne, president of the Dixon Center, which advocates for programs to benefit veterans, told The Republican Journal Saturday that an anonymous donor had given $10,000 to aid veterans during the Christmas holiday. His agency contacted Jim Roberts, VFW operations manager, to help distribute this benefit throughout the holiday season.

Earlier, at the 9:30 a.m. ceremony in Belfast, cars lined Main Street as far as the eye could see while flag-bearing veterans of the local VFW and American Legion posts and Patriot Riders of Maine assembled, rimming the area around the Grove Cemetery monument in memory of those lost in World War I.

In his opening welcome, the VFW’s Roberts reminded his audience of the mission of Wreaths Across America to remember fallen veterans, honor those who serve and teach children the value of freedom. Curry delivered his remarks and invited those present to come and tell him about their their loved ones who served.

Then children of Belfast American Legion veterans laid wreaths: Aleah Armstrong, 12, at the marker for Herbert Collins; Hunter Woodbury, 10, at the marker for Frank D. Hazeltine; Autumn Hustus, 16, at the marker for Martin Randall; and Jayden Bragdon, 13, at the monument.

The Belfast ceremony concluded with a 21-gun salute and “Taps.”

Nationally, according to a press release from Wreaths Across America, wreath-laying ceremonies took place Dec. 18 at 3,136 participating locations across the country as over 2 million volunteers, a third of whom were children, helped placed more than 2.4 million veterans’ wreaths on headstones of the fallen.

At Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, 66 tractor-trailers delivered over 250,000 veterans’ wreaths that were placed by nearly 38,000 volunteers. This was the 30th year that veterans’ wreaths have been placed there, a tradition started by Harrington Falls wreath maker Morrill Worcester in 1992.

Maine State Sen. Glenn “Chip” Curry, D-Waldo, addresses the crowd at the wreath-laying ceremony Dec. 18. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Wreath-laying ceremony in Unity Dec. 18. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Steve Brown plays “Taps” at the wreath-laying ceremony Dec. 18 at Village Cemetery in Unity. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

A young participant at the Unity wreath-laying event Dec. 18 at Village Cemetery. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Bill Foley, representing the Merchant Marines, lays a wreath in honor of fallen veterans Dec. 18. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Paula Roberts and Clifton Hooper Sr. at the Unity wreath-laying ceremony Dec. 18. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Unity wreath-laying ceremony Dec. 18. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Participants in the wreath-laying ceremony at Village Cemetery in Unity, Dec. 18. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Members of the Patriot Riders of Maine stand at attention at the wreath-laying ceremony in Unity Dec. 18. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Vehicles line Main Street at Grove Cemetery, Belfast, for the Wreaths Across America ceremony Dec. 18. Photo by Carolyn Zachary

Wreath layers Aleah Armstrong, Hunter Woodbury, Autumn Hustus and Jayden Bragdon, from left, listen to speaker Sen. Chip Curry, D-Waldo, Dec. 18 in Grove Cemetery, Belfast. Photo by Carolyn Zachary

Veterans assemble around the World War I memorial in Grove Cemetery for a wreath-laying ceremony Dec. 18. Photo by Carolyn Zachary

VFW Operations Manager Jim Roberts, far right, helps Autumn Hustus of Belfast position a wreath on the marker for Martin Randall, who died in World War I, during ceremony in Grove Cemetery, Belfast. Photo by Carolyn Zachary

Veterans and community members gather for wreath-laying ceremony in Grove Cemetery, Belfast, the morning of Dec. 18. Photo by Carolyn Zachary

 

Jayden Bragdon of Belfast lays a wreath atop the World War I monument in Grove Cemetery, Belfast, Dec. 18. Photo by Carolyn Zachary

Sen. Chip Curry, D-Waldo, honors veterans and those who have died in our wars during his remarks in Grove Cemetery, Belfast, Dec. 18. Photo by Carolyn Zachary

Members of Belfast American Legion Post hold flags during ceremony Dec. 18. Photo by Carolyn Zachary

Grove Cemetery wreath-laying ceremony Dec. 18 concludes with a 21-gun salute by members of Belfast VFW. Photo by Carolyn Zachary

Members of the Patriot Riders of Maine, a veterans’ motorcycle club, are among those taking part in the Grove Cemetery ceremony Dec. 18. Photo by Carolyn Zachary