Ceremony honors sacrifice of armed forces personnel

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By Matthew Sockol
Staff Writer

FREEHOLD – A national ceremony that honors members of the United States armed forces who were killed in service to the nation was recently observed in Freehold Borough.

On Dec. 17 at noon at Elks Point, municipal officials, residents and guests took part in Wreaths Across America, an annual event in which wreaths are placed at cemeteries and monuments across the nation.

Wreaths were placed at the monuments at Elks Point and at the religious markers at the memorial that honor members of the armed forces from Freehold who were killed in the nation’s wars, according to borough officials.

The event was sponsored by the Olive Branch Masonic Lodge No. 16, Freehold.

According to municipal officials, individuals at more than 1,100 locations nationwide and at more than 40 locations overseas participated in the ceremony. The wreaths in all of the locations were placed at the same time on the same day, which coincides with the laying of wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

This was the 25th year that wreaths were placed in Arlington National Cemetery and almost one million wreaths were placed at the event’s various locations, according to borough officials.

Mayor Nolan Higgins, Councilwoman Sharon Shutzer, Councilman George Schnurr and Councilman Kevin Kane attended the ceremony on behalf of the borough’s governing body.

“The Wreaths Across America ceremony is a very moving event held in the midst of the holiday season to remember those who had served our nation,” Higgins said. “The ceremony reminds us to be thankful for those who, in the case of the Elks Point ceremony, paid the supreme sacrifice while serving our citizens.

“Like Memorial Day, it is so important to have these events so we always remember our citizens who served, along with the sacrifices made by their families,” the mayor said. “Our thanks go out to Olive Branch Lodge No. 16, Free and Accepted Masons, for sponsoring this event.”

“Wreaths Across America continues to be one of the most heartwarming and meaningful events in the borough,” Shutzer said. “Any time we give honor to those who gave their lives in service of our country is an emotional experience. The (inclement) weather was quite meaningful because it brought to mind the battles they fought.”

With all of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, to remember veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice is a wonderful idea and we hope this tradition of remembrance can grow each year,” Schnurr said.