Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 40
Widow Harrietta Meyer, 89,
began raising funds in December
2013 to place wreaths on every
veteran's grave at the Missouri
State Veterans Cemetery in Jacksonville as part of the Wreaths
Across America outreach.
One woman's quest to remember those who gave all
by Heather Berry | firstname.lastname@example.org
task of raising nearly $10,000 in a year didn't phase her. It was just another
obstacle to overcome - like the fact that she's legally blind.
"I don't let being blind hinder me," says the lively 89-year-old. "There's always
he only wanted to place a wreath at her husband's headstone for Christmas, but it wasn't going to happen - at least not that year. It was early someone worse off than you are."
While she and her husband lived in Marceline, Harrietta recently moved to
in December 2013 and Marceline resident Harrietta Meyer's life was forever changed. Walter, her husband of 54 years, had passed away. As a Higginsville to live at John Knox Village East, an independent living community
World War II veteran of the U.S. Navy, Walter was buried in the quiet little Mis- for active seniors. But her schedule is still busier than most people half her age.
Harrietta says she couldn't do this without the generosity of the individuals,
souri town of Jacksonville, at one of the ﬁve state veteran cemeteries.
"I went to the cemetery ofﬁce and asked why there weren't wreaths on any of businesses and groups who've chosen to help support her heart's mission to
the graves and I was told they have an 'all or none' policy," recalls Harrietta, 89. honor every veteran laid to rest at the Jacksonville veterans cemetery.
"Sadly the number of graves only goes up each year," Harrietta adds. "So
"Every veteran's stone has a wreath or none can have one."
While every cemetery has its own guidelines, Harrietta wouldn't be deterred. fundraising is an ongoing thing."
Since she has moved away from the area, Harrietta felt it was time to pass
She soon found out about Wreaths Across America and immediately began raising funds to purchase fresh spruce wreaths for every veteran's headstone the the torch to someone else to make sure the Missouri State Veterans Cemetery
in Jacksonville continues to be part of Wreaths Across America each December.
The Wreaths Across America program was unofﬁcially started by Maine busi- Audrain County VFW member Ernie Allen met Harrietta years ago and he says
nessman Morrill Worcester in 1992. As the owner of a successful wreath com- what Harrietta began should continue.
"She's laid the groundwork for us to continue the program," says Ernie,
pany, Morrill found the company had a surplus of fresh wreaths one December.
He recalled a trip to Arlington National Cemetery and the indelible impression it adding he and Harrietta often have hour-long phone conversations about the
made on him as a youth, reminding him of the ultimate sacriﬁce veterans make mission at hand.
for their nation. He donated 5,000 wreaths to the cemetery.
There are two other vital things required to make the program work: volunteers showing up on the appointed day to help place the wreaths by the
The organization became a nonproﬁt in 2007.
"The goal of Wreaths Across America is to 'remember, honor,
headstones, and donations to ensure each veteran has a wreath.
teach,' " says Harrietta, as if faithfully reciting a scout pledge.
According to Harrietta, around 200 volunteers usually show up at
"Placing a wreath by each stone is a symbol of respect and apprethe cemetery, but they can always use more hands. As each wreath
is placed, the name of the veteran is said aloud, with a moment of
ciation. It's another way to thank a veteran who died ﬁghting for
the freedoms we enjoy today."
silence given in thanks to them for their service to our country.
With nearly 1,000 veterans to honor in Jacksonville's cemeIn a year's time, Harrietta was able to raise enough money to
tery, it will take $15,000 this year to honor each serviceman and
grace all 852 headstones at the Missouri State Veterans Cemetery
woman with a wreath on National Wreaths Across America Day,
at Jacksonville the following year with fresh wreaths.
which falls on the second or third Saturday of December annually.
"When I began collecting money, the wreaths were $10 each,"
says Harrietta. "But like most things, prices have gone up and now they're $15
This year's date is Dec. 17.
Harrietta hopes more young people will join the groups of volunteers helping
Wreath orders are placed through Wreaths Across America so every head- them this year. "Freedom is a very important gift and we want future generastone will have the exact same wreath placed at its base. If the veteran is tions to know why what we're doing means so much," she says. "We wouldn't
interred in a mausoleum, the wreaths are placed along the base of the wall. The have what we do today if it wasn't for our veterans."
evergreen wreaths represent longevity and endurance, while the large red bows
To make a donation toward Jacksonville cemetery's Wreaths Across America
represent great sacriﬁce. The circular shape of the wreath represents eternity.
Most often, trucking companies volunteer their services, and drivers their project, contact Ernie Allen for more information at 573-253-1562; or email vfwtime, to haul the semi-loads of wreaths which all come from the headquarters of email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Any checks for donations should
Wreaths Across America located in Maine. Currently, there are 1,100 federal or be made out to Wreaths Across America and sent to VFW Post #3772, P. O. Box
state veteran cemetery locations participating. They are located in all 50 states, 249, Mexico, MO 65265.
To ﬁnd locations of other Missouri veteran cemeteries participating in Wreaths
Puerto Rico and several American cemeteries in foreign countries.
Anyone who's met Harrietta knows she's not afraid of any challenge, so the Across America, go to www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.
RURAL MISSOURI | OCTOBER 2016
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - October 2016
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - Intro
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - Contents
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 4
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 5
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 6
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 7
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 8
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 9
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 10
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Rural Missouri - October 2016 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - Cover4