2nd ANNUAL WREATH LAYING CEREMONY
“Wreaths Across America”
Saturday, December 10, 2011 – 8:45 AM
Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park
11111 Aurora Ave N. – Seattle, WA 98133
This year Evergreen-Washelli will be celebrating veterans buried within its Veterans’ Cemetery section on December 10, 2011 at 8:45 am. Following a brief ceremony there will be laying of donated wreaths by volunteers.
Our guest speaker this year is Skip Dreps. Dreps was drafted into the United States Army in 1969 and re-enlisted twice before leaving military service with extensive spinal cord injuries following many airborne operations. During his military service he was a medical non-commissioned officer assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group, 173rd Airborne Brigade, the 509th Airborne Battalion Combat Team Allied Mobile Force (Europe) and assigned as a military advisor to NATO Headquarters in Shape, Belgium. His awards and decorations include the Combat Medical Badge, Army Commendation Medal, Master Parachutist Badge, and Aircrew Members Badge. He was also a graduate of the French Commando School and was awarded the French Parachutist Badge.
Following his military service he graduated from the University of Florida with a teaching degree in Secondary Schools and was an Upward Bound Instructor. He was recruited by the Paralyzed Veterans of America in 1984 and was trained as a National Service Officer. In 1997 he went to work as the Government Relations Director for the Northwest Chapter Paralyzed Veterans of America until September 2008. He was a Steering Committee member of the Garden of Remembrance, a memorial at the Seattle Benaroya Hall that memorializes all Washington State sons and daughters killed in war since 1941. He served as a Board of Trustee to the Veterans Cemetery at Evergreen-Washelli Cemetery for ten years. He was a member of the Seattle VA’s Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Care Committee and served on King County’s Americans with Disabilities Advisory Board.
He served as a member of the Institutional Review Board at the Seattle Institute for Biomedical and Clinical Research Corporation at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System. He has been awarded the Outstanding Veteran of the Year Award by the Governor’s Veterans Advisory Committee and Washington Department of Veterans Affairs, received the White Ribbon Award by the Washington Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities, and was honored by both the Makah Nation and the Choctaw Nation for his work with the Native Americans Veterans Association. He currently serves as the Ambassador and member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors, Association of Washington Generals.
This special wreath laying ceremony is to occur simultaneously with Arlington National Cemetery and other Veterans Cemeteries in all 50 states (such as the one at Evergreen Washelli) along with veteran’s burial grounds around the globe.
“Wreaths Across America” organizes this event with the message of remembering our fallen heroes, honoring those who serve, and teaching our children about the sacrifices made by veterans and their families to preserve our freedoms.
This event is being made possible through donated funds and hard work done by the Navy Wives Club of America. It is their vision that has made this 2nd annual wreath laying ceremony possible. This year the Navy Wives Club was able to secure 100 wreaths which will allow for one wreath per row of veterans buried in Evergreen Washelli’s Veterans Memorial Cemetery. Wreaths will also be laid throughout Evergreen-Washelli at the graves of the Medal of Honor recipients. One wreath for each branch of service will be displayed at Evergreen-Washelli’s Doughboy statue in memory of all who have served.
It is interesting to note that each section with the Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery was named for a battle in which the United States Armed Forces participated. Bronze plaques in keeping with the military theme identifying each section of Evergreen-Washelli’s Veterans Cemetery were contributed by the Puget Sound Navy Yard at Bremerton.
Donations and Volunteers are needed If you would like to make a donation or participate in next year’s wreath laying ceremony, please contact Lorraine Zimmerman of the Totem #277 Navy Wives Club of America. Or for more information about this event, please contact Brenda Spicer at Evergreen Washelli, 206-362-5200.
About Evergreen Washelli’s Veterans Memorial Cemetery Arlington National Cemetery is America’s most renowned veterans’ cemetery, but for the Seattle-area veterans and their spouses, being interred in Virginia would greatly hinder their loved ones from being able to visit their graves as often as they would prefer, especially prior to the jet age. As early as 1904, local veterans of the Spanish America war began to search for ways to honor their fallen comrades with a local cemetery of their own, but the start of the First World War delayed their efforts. Their search finally ended in 1927 when Clinton S. Harley, then General Manager for Evergreen Washelli, a veteran of the Spanish America War himself, offered a large section of the cemetery for the burial of veterans and their spouses. Today Evergreen Washelli has over 5000 Veterans in its care.