MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

December 9, 2010

Ceremony to honor veterans

Shannon Wann Plaster said everyone who attends Wreaths Across America on Saturday at the Fort Gibson National Cemetery will be part of a heartfelt event.

The annual nationwide ceremony features the placing of wreaths at the graves of veterans. During this year’s observance in Fort Gibson, there will be six wreaths placed for each branch of the military and one for Prisoners Of War/Missing In Action. At least 30 families also will place wreaths at the graves of their loved ones.

Plaster said she was invited because the remains of her father, Chief Warrant Officer Donald Wann, were recently repatriated to the Fort Gibson cemetery 39 years after his helicopter was shot down in Vietnam.

“I was asked to participate in laying the POW/MIA wreath,” she said. “I’m blessed and honored that they asked me. This is really special to me because this will be the first Christmas that my dad is here in America and in Oklahoma (since he went missing in action). That’s like the best Christmas gift ever.”

The Civil Air Patrol, veterans service organizations and citizens are coordinating the event to honor veterans of each branch of the military, the Merchant Marine as well as Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action. Plaster said anyone who attends will find meaning in the ceremony.

“I think if the public comes to it they will see all the men and women who sacrificed their lives for us to be free,” she said. “They need to be remembered. They need to be honored and respected.”

Capt. Stephen Ezell, USAF-CAP, said the CAP color guard will participate, and First Lt. Rick Rutledge, CAP, will announce each part of the ceremony. Scheduled speakers include state Rep. George Faught, R-Muskogee, Lt. Col. Jim Sanders (Ret.) with the veterans’ Upward Bound program at Connors State College, and a representative from the office of U.S. Rep. Dan Boren, D-Muskogee.

The CAP has sponsored and conducted the event since 2006, he said.

Ezell will help members of the public who want to place a wreath on a specific grave. He said will use a computer to guide them to the correct location.

If you go

WHAT: Wreaths Across America.

WHERE: Fort Gibson National Cemetery, 1423 Cemetery Road, Fort Gibson.

WHEN: 11 a.m. Saturday.

ADMISSION: Free.

ETC.: Visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/civil-air-patrol.html.

INFORMATION: 478-2334 or 616-5692.

Reach Keith Purtell at 684-2925 or kpurtell@muskogeephoenix.com.

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