Herman Davis Monument receives wreath

Monday, December 30, 2013

A wreath, as part of the Wreaths Across America program, was placed at the Herman Davis Monument Park in Manila on Thursday, Dec. 12. Herman Davis, a World War I hero, is buried at the site located just off Highway 18 on Baltimore Street.

A wreath was placed at the Herman Davis Monument in Manila. Pictured are, from left: Henry Ford, representing the city of Manila; Jerry McCain, vice commander of Herman Davis Post 197; Grady Willmuth, commander of Herman Davis Post 197; Mark Brown, manager of Blytheville WalMart, Pariot Guard Rider, and volunteer for Wreaths Across America; Ed Lemke, Northeast Arkansas assistant ride captain of the Patriot Guard Riders and motorcycle escort for the group; David Bull, volunteer truck driver; Keith Alford, U.S. veteran and volunteer truck driver; and Jess Dickey, U.S. veteran and volunteer truck driver. (Photo courtesy/Donna Jackson)

Henry Ford, Manila water superintendent and avid motorcyclist, heard about the Wreaths Across America program and how they honor veterans by placing fresh wreaths on the graves of veterans in national cemeteries. Ford thought it would be a nice tribute to have one placed at the Herman Davis Park since it is also the hero's gravesite.

Ford took his idea to Donna Jackson, a local historian and strong supporter of area veterans.

She recently met Mark Brown and Ed Lemke, members of the Patriot Guard Riders, at Weslie Crouse's funeral. Mr. Crouse was a World War II veteran. The Patriot Guard Riders were in Manila escorting the family to the cemetery.

The Patriot Guard Riders are volunteers who want to ensure dignity and respect at memorial services for fallen military heroes, First Responders and honorably discharged veterans. They share a love of motorcycles and respect for those who risked their lives for freedom.

Brown is the manager of Walmart in Blytheville. Jackson talked to Brown about making arrangements for placing the wreath at the Manila site.

Jackson said she was surprised when three semi-trucks filled with wreaths stopped in Manila and the volunteers presented the wreath. The group laid a wreath at the War Memorial located on the Blytheville Court House lawn, and then the caravan made its way to Manila. Manila Police officers, Mississippi County Sheriff Deputies, and Arkansas State Troopers escorted the entourage into Manila.

After the laying of the wreath, the group continued to the National Veterans Cemetery.

The program is funded through donations and volunteers from organizations and the trucking industry make it successful.

For more information on the wreath program log to: www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/ about/history/#sthash. 91WZUZJV.dpuf

"People are excited that their donations will benefit local heroes by placing wreaths on their graves," Jackson said. "I am happy to have Herman Davis honored by this organization."

The Wreaths Across America story started with a memory of a young boy named Morrill Worcester who later became owner of Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine. Worcester visited Washington D.C. as a 12 year old boy and never forgot the impression Arlington National Cemetery made on him.

In 1992, Worcester Wreath found themselves with a surplus of wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season. He realized he had the opportunity to honor veterans. With the help of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, arrangements were made to have the wreaths placed at Arlington Cemetery. A number of individuals and organizations helped including a local trucking company, Blue Bird Ranch, Inc. Other volunteers helped. The annual tribute went on quietly for several years until 2005 when information circulated around the internet.

Worcester began sending seven wreaths to every state, one for each branch of the military.

In 2006 with the help of the Civil Air Patrol and other civic organizations, wreaths laying ceremonies were held at over 150 locations. The Patriot Guard riders volunteered as escort for the wreaths going to Arlington.

The tradition continued to grow and in 2008 over 300 locations held wreath laying ceremonies in every state, Puerto Rico and 24 overseas cemeteries. Over 100,000 wreaths were placed on veterans' graves with over 60,000 volunteers participating.

In 2010, Wreaths Across America and the network of volunteers laid over 220,000 memorial wreaths at 545 locations in the United States and beyond.

The mission of Wreaths Across America is to Remember, honor and teach. They want to teach the younger generation about the value of the freedom they enjoy and the importance of honoring those who sacrificed so much to protect those freedoms.

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