La Crosse volunteers honor veterans with Christmas wreaths

More than 100,000 wreaths are being laid on veterans’ gravestones across the country today to pay tribute to those who served.

With Christmas just 10 days away, many people are busy buying presents, traveling and spending time with their families.

But the La Crosse Civil Air Patrol hopes everyone will pause this holiday season to think about those veterans who fought for our freedom.

Maj. Todd Mandel, the squadron commander of the La Crosse Civil Air Patrol, said, “There are stories here. Every one of these gravesites represents someone’s story and someone’s loved one.”

The La Crosse Civil Air Patrol laid more than 150 wreaths at Woodlawn Cemetery for Wreaths Across America.

“It’s part of a nationwide opportunity to pause during the holiday season and remember the sacrifices that veterans have made on our behalf,” Mandel said.

This is the sixth year the Civil Air Patrol has participated in the nationwide event.

Civil Air Patrol cadet Seth Tiedeman said, “Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate this and look forward to this every year. It’s just so nice to give back to the veterans.”

Tiedeman wishes more people would take time to appreciate veterans.

“I feel like over time, they may not be remembered as much, so the least that I can do is to give a little bit of time on my weekend to come out here and pay tribute to them,” Tiedeman said.

Around a dozen volunteers came out to help the Civil Air Patrol.

“This was the first year we had members of the public come out to participate in the actual wreath laying,” Mandel said.

Civil Air Patrol cadet Catriona Ladue hopes even more people will show up next year.

“Really just take the time out of the holiday season to appreciate the freedom that they’ve given us,” Ladue said.

The Civil Air Patrol plans to keep this tradition going, because they say it’s simply the right thing to do.

“Many of the families here may never even know we took the time this morning to recognize their loved ones, but those of us doing it know, and that’s its own reward,” Mandel said.

The Civil Air Patrol says today wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the community.

All of their wreaths were donated by 30 individuals, as well as the Barb and Dave Erickson Fund, Logistics Health Incorporated and the La Crosse Community Foundation.

To learn more, you can go to wreathsacrossamerica.org.

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