MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — With their bodies bundled up against December’s biting cold, patriotism and honor stood hand-in-hand on the frozen ground of Fort Snelling National Cemetery.

On Saturday, hundreds gathered under the main flagpole to remember past sacrifice during a time of holiday cheer.

“The holiday season is one of the toughest times for families who lost loved ones and that’s one reason it’s so important to do this today,” said U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar.

The remembrance came in the form of 1,800 balsam wreaths. One-by-one, each branch of the military would have a wreath placed against a granite monument. Following the official ceremony came a wave of volunteers eager to decorate hundreds of white marble markers in a sea of red and green.

Rita Privratsky was among those braving the elements to lend a helping hand. Her father and two brothers are buried at Fort Snelling.

“No matter how cold it is it’s just the least we can do. Just to honor them a few times a year,” said Privatsky.

The day of decorating is part of a nationwide program called “Wreaths Across America.” It began six years ago on the east coast as a way to help decorate Arlington National Cemetery. This year, the program will orchestrate the laying of more than 325,000 wreaths on veterans’ graves in all 50 states.

In Minnesota, the Civil Air Patrol organizes the wreath laying campaign. They will gather sponsorships to purchase the wreaths and then deliver them to cemeteries across the state.

“The wreaths are purchased through donations and our squadrons across the state go out on fundraising to support the wreath program,” said CAP Wing Commander Jerry Rosendahl.

With her uncles and grandfather resting in this silent and solemn ground, Clarissa Rozales will do her part. Along with her grandmother, Rozalez carried an armful of wreaths to white marble markers of veterans she didn’t know. It is her way of keeping the memories of all veterans alive, through the greenery of the season.

“Even if they’re not here with us today, this is what we can do to at least show we care for them and love them, even if we don’t know them,” said Rozales.

Bill Hudson

Comments (4)
  1. Harley says:

    God Bless You…Merry Christmas!!!!!!

  2. Neal Heurung says:

    I think it’s beautiful that loved ones celebrate the life and their love for a deceased family member, friend and fellow soldier. Both of my parents are buried at Ft. Snelling. However, I find it offensive, and don’t appreciate, the expectation that I or anyone else should jump aboard the latest band wagon that some group dreams up. My memory of my deceased loved ones, and how I honor them, is my business and mine alone. I choose not to remember and honor them in public or with a group of others except on Memorial Day. The rest of the year, please leave me alone when I visit their grave sites. This is not a ’cause’ for me. This is not a ‘movement’ for me. If I want to put a wreath on their headstone I will, if not, it’s none of your business.

    I used to donate to a couple of select veterans organizations until I started getting a few calls a week from more and more veterans organizations that I’ve never heard of. Obviously the organizations that I donated to sold my name and phone number to other veteran’s organizations. That is offensive to me. You have turned my loss and patriotism into a business. Shame on you!

  3. NW says:

    Neal, I can understand your feelings. Wreaths Across American seems legit, and I think they’re trying to do good. It’s such a shame that some organizations choose to lower themselves and turn good people like you away.

  4. Ron k says:

    Proudly we Thank thoses who have taken the time to care for thoses who lost there lives keeping us free.. Special love and thanks to Anita Kedrowski my sister for she was one of those special people who placed wreaths on graves of our service people.
    Love Your brother Ron