PAULDING, OH (WPTA21)-St. Paul Lutheran Church, Paulding County, Ohio. A spare and simple building reflecting the character of the faithful who built it 140 years ago. St. Paul oversees the usually quiet burial ground that surrounds it. Usually quiet, but on this day there are visitors.
“It’s a celebration of their lives,” says volunteer Linda McCain, “we’re not decorating for Christmas we’re remembering them.”
A small band of volunteers is laying wreaths at the headstones of war veterans resting in St. Paul cemetery, 208 of them. It’s the first year for this solemn duty which will be an annual effort headed up by Linda McCain. Her father, two brothers and son served in the military. For Linda this ceremony carries great purpose.
“Remember the fallen,” she says, “honor them and teach our younger generation because this is something that is not handed down it’s taught.”
These are volunteers with the ‘Pauling Veterans Memorial Wreaths’, part of the national organization, ‘Wreaths Across America’ which honors two million graves across the country every December, graves of soldiers who fought in all of America’s wars. Charles Klingler rests in St. Paul, he fought with the 33rd Ohio Infantry in the Civil War, saw action at Murfreesboro and Chicamauga and marched with Sherman to the sea. Charles Leslie fought with the 68th Armoured Field Artillery in World War Two, the 68th fought in Germany and Japan. John Daeger is volunteering today, a very emotional mission for this Vietnam combat veteran.
“I have friends that did not come back from Vietnam,” he says. “I went to junior high…with one gentleman over in Antwerp and he was killed and then two friends that I was stationed early in my time, Marine Corps, neither one of them had come back.”
Honoring these veterans who did come home remembers those who didn’t. So these good Samaritans present will return next year to bestow tender remembrances on the graves of soldiers past. Honoring the men and women who fought, bringing honor to themselves as they do it. Eric Olson reporting out in 21 Country.