By Maj Kumar Misra, Maj Chris Johnson, Maj Kathy Johnson, 1st Lt Patrick Bitz, and 2d Lt Karin Hollerbach
Wreaths Across America takes place at 12:00 EST across America and each year on the second Saturday of December. Of late at Golden Gate Cemetery in San Bruno, it customarily had been held at the base of the dominant flagpole visible from the highway. This year, it was held more in the interior of the campus with a relatively smaller group of attendees than in years past. However, it was no less exceptional.
The theme of "Honor, Remember and Teach" was again emphasized. As part of the annual program a wreath was dedicated to each branch of the service to pay respect accordingly. The Sons of the America Legion and the Patriot Riders were also in attendance, as they are each year. POW and MIA were recognized with great reverence as well.
|Group of veterans|
|Col Grace Edinboro|
| Maj Kathy Johnson, Maj Chris Johnson, |
Maj Kumar Misra and Col Grace Edinboro
An interesting announcement was made prior to the wreaths being distributed for placement after the formal program was over; all tombstones are to have a wreath placed upon them except ones with the Star of David on them. To ensure I heard those instructions correctly (as I had never heard of such a thing in years past), I inquired about the same to make sure I did not inadvertently do something incorrect. Apparently, earlier this year the JWV (Jewish War Veterans) in working with WAA made a request to ensure wreaths were not laid to rest upon the graves of Jewish American soldiers. Read about it here: http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/honoring-jewish-headstones/
|Maj Kumar Misra|
In paying respect to those who paid the ultimate price for our values, freedom, and way of life, it is essential we always respect the sensitivities of the diverse communities our great nation has. This was a warm lesson learned this year around and I am sure many other such requests from different communities will come about in time. This diversity is our strength as a nation and for each of us to be a part of the beautiful mosaic that is "America" makes participating in such respectful ceremonies for our nations heroes all that much more special.
|1st Lt Patrick Bitz|
This was the first WAA program that Majs Chris and Kathy Johnson attended. According to Maj Chris Johnson, I was proud to represent CAP and to see the cadets so well turned out and professional! What saddened me was the small turn out. One would think thousands would come to pay their respects. Makes me think most Americans don't realize the freedoms we have and the cost involved to keep it.
Just driving along the frontage road to the cemetery was a moving moment. Looking at the 10s of thousands of graves, all lined up, all the same, gave one pause to reflect and well up with gratitude to those that gave all and to those that lost a loved one.
|Maj. Chris Johnson|
|Maj Kathy Johnson|
A key take away from the event is that we could do more to thank, respect, and honor our vets, both alive and dead. As printed on the front of the program, "don't say I SHOULD HAVE, say I did.
Maj. Kathy Johnson and Maj Chris Johnson