Wreaths Across America honors fallen veterans

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LAYTON — Last December, Denyce Brown, of Riverton, witnessed a man take his lunch break and attend the Wreaths across America ceremony at the Layton Lindquist Memorial Park for remembering the country’s fallen heroes and honoring those who serve.

Afterward, with a donated wreath in hand, he walked slowly around the cemetery, looking for just the right veteran. Upon finding the gravesite of his choice, he placed the wreath, snapped a picture and posted it online. 

Later at work, his supervisor approached him, curious as to why he had posted a picture of his grandfather’s gravesite. 

“He had no idea whose (gravesite) it was, only that it was somebody’s dad and son, and it was a tender moment for these two as they talked about the event,” said Brown, who organized the event in Layton with her husband, Keith. 

Inspired by his employee, the man’s supervisor is coming to participate in the Wreaths across America event this year, Brown said, an event that takes place across the nation at 1,200 locations, nearly 20 of them at cemeteries in Utah. 

The Browns were invited to attend the event at Riverton’s Camp Williams a few years ago, which inspired them to start the event in Layton last year. 

“We absolutely fell in love with it and decided it was something we needed to do since both of our fathers served, and we have children who have served, too,” Brown said. “They sacrificed everything without question and were willing to put it all on the line to protect our freedom. When you see how many years they’ve given up with their families, we can give them a day out of the year at Christmas.”

Keith Brown’s father is buried at the Lindquist Memorial in Layton, so he suggested they get a wreath for him. But the couple decided to take it to the next level and try to remember as many veterans as they can through the Wreaths Across America program. 

“My father was in the Air Force for about 25 years and he was stationed all over the world and often on remote tours,” Keith Brown said. “He missed my graduation, but he made sacrifices that I know all families who have active-duty personnel are all sacrificing, too. I think this is a perfect opportunity for people to reflect on the sacrifices that our veterans have made for us and are making for us.”

The couple uses donated funds and corporate sponsorships to purchase evergreen wreaths, made by a company in Maine started by a young paperboy who was inspired by the wreaths he saw on gravesites in the Arlington National Cemetery. 

 This year’s ceremony, at Layton’s Lindquist Mortuary, 1867 N. Fairfield, will be at 10 a.m. Dec. 12, but the deadline for donating funds for wreaths is Thanksgiving. 

More information for donating can be found at www.wreathsacrossamerica.org by typing in “Utah” and then clicking on the link for Lindquist Mortuary in Layton. 

Members of Operation Bald Eagles, a local group that supports servicemen, veterans and their families, will also be attending the Layton event. 

“For most of us, this is a sacrifice we don’t have to deal with. We go to work and come back every day, not putting ourselves in a position where we put our lives on the line,” said Operation Bald Eagles member Jeff Mitchell. “There are things the general public may not even be aware of. Just because there isn’t a war right now doesn’t mean that sacrifices aren’t going on.”