Preview: Wreaths Across America in La Crosse

In more than 1,400 communities across the nation this weekend, more than 100,000 wreaths will be placed on the graves of fallen veterans. More than 160 of those wreaths will be placed in La Crosse’s Woodlawn Cemetery by cadets with the Civil Air Patrol.

Squadron Commander Major Todd Mandel says getting involved with Wreaths Across America gives the Civil Air Patrol an opportunity to teach the next generation about respect and sacrifice.

“We stand on the shoulders of giants. The things we do today are because people 20 years ago, 40 years ago, 60 years ago, 100 years ago, decided to commit themselves to an idea bigger than themselves,” says Major Mandel. “It’s particularly poignant for a bunch of teenagers to sacrifice their Saturday morning to take a moment and remember folks that they never knew, and never will know… just to recognize them and thank them for what they did.”

Saturday’s event will be the first La Crosse-based Wreaths Across America event 17 year old Cadet Major Mathias Gilliam participates in, but he has participated previously in events in Minnesota.

“Everybody on one day is coming together across the nation and laying wreaths and honoring veterans together,” he says. “It’s not only uniting the community, it’s uniting the nation.”

According to the Wreaths Across America website, wreath-laying ceremonies are coordinated at Arlington National Cemetery and hundreds of other cemeteries. The La Crosse event begins at 11 a.m. Saturday with a remembrance ceremony inside the Woodlawn Cemetery mausoleum at 3636 Mormon Coulee Road, with wreath-laying to follow. The public is welcome.

The cost of the wreaths in La Crosse is covered through donations from individuals, the Barb & Dave Erickson Fund, and Logistics Health Incorporated.

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