Ascension to lay wreaths

Leslie D. Rose

     GONZALES –  On Dec. 12, remembrance wreaths will be placed at the headstones of fallen veterans at more than 1,000 locations across the country and overseas, including Gonzales’ very own Ascension Veterans Park, recently named an official location for the national Wreaths Across America (WAA) initiative.

     It was Tanya Whitney of Women Veterans of Louisiana who had the notion to get Ascension Parish in on WAA.

     “She had seen the wonderful programs of Port Hudson and National cemeteries in Baton Rouge [and] brought the idea to a meeting of the Ascension Veterans Association,” said civilian AVA volunteer, Missy Jandura. “With overwhelming volunteer support, this program moved forward to honor our veterans in the cemeteries in Ascension Parish.”

     Founded to continue and expand the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, WAA – a nonprofit organization – bestowed the honor of wreath-laying inclusin to Ascension Parish on Nov. 9.

     This year’s theme is “Cemeteries are for the living”, and it is the first year that Ascension Parish cemeteries will be participating. Marine Veteran and Mayor of Gonzales, Barney Arceneaux, is the 2015 Honorary Chairman for the event.

     "It is with such pride that I have been asked to serve as honorary chairman of this beautiful tribute to the many men and women from across Ascension Parish who have joined the armed forces and laid down their lives for all of us," said City of Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux. "I urge everyone to participate in this program by not only purchasing the wreaths, but by making a show of solidarity when they are laid on many graves throughout our community on December 12. I have seen this tribute at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C., and to be participating right here at home is beyond a beautiful showing of remembrance."

     In efforts to make its participation successful, Ascension Veterans Association will be organizing fundraising events that will culminate in the wreath-laying ceremony to honor veterans on Dec. 12 or Wreaths Across America Day.

     “As we grow our local efforts, we are calling upon volunteers and corporation to get involved immediately – it is a poignant way to fulfill the mission to honor, remember and teach,” Jandura said.

     Wreaths can be purchased from AVA volunteers or Ourso Funeral Homes.

     Area organizers encourage businesses, cemetery organizers, churches, families and groups to assist in sponsoring wreaths as they would like to reach or exceed a goal of 200 wreaths for Ascension Veterans Association.