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Community honors veterans with wreaths

The Hanford Sentinel - 12/20/2019

Dec. 19--ARMONA -- The first Wreaths Across America ceremony in Kings County was held Saturday, honoring over 1,000 veterans at their resting places at Grangeville Cemetery in Armona.

For their 4-H Emerald Star Project, 13-year-olds Wylee Barajas and Jayleen Chavez collected donations for Wreaths Across America, an organization that seeks to honor veterans during the holiday season by placing handmade wreaths at their grave sites.

Wylee and Jayleen spent two months collecting enough donations for just over 1,100 wreaths. During the wreath-laying ceremony on Saturday afternoon, the girls, along with over 100 community members, placed the wreaths on the graves and paid their respects to the veterans.

The ceremony was special to both Jayleen and Wylee, who picked the project because they both have veterans in their families. Wylee's great grandfather is buried at Grangeville Cemetery, as is Jayleen's father, James Chavez. Chavez was a Tulare County Sheriff's Office pilot who was killed in a plane crash in 2016.

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Before the ceremony, Jayleen and her mother and brother were able to lay a wreath on her father's grave.

The girls also said they enjoyed the project because they were able to carry out Wreaths Across America's mission of "Remember the fallen, Honor those that serve, and Teach the next generation about the value of Freedom." Wylee said the younger generations have forgotten what veterans are and how much they sacrificed for our freedom.

Along with the dozens of community members helping to place the wreaths, the ceremony also featured a veteran presenting a wreath for each branch of the military and David Ritter, a veteran and POW, laying the ceremonial wreath for POWs/MIAs.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 583-2423 or jzavala@hanfordsentinel.com

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