Wreaths were placed Saturday morning, Dec. 27, at the gravesite of Frank L. Mitchell in Holy Cross Cemetery in Livermore Falls. VFW Post 3335 in Jay is named in his honor. Pictured from left during the ceremony are Larry Bilodeau, Rick Merrill, David Lachapelle, Father Paul Dumais, Janice Sweeney, Kim Cote, Pam Manter and Jim Manter. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

LIVERMORE FALLS — A thick blanket of snow falling overnight led to some changes in the planned placement of wreaths from Wreaths Across America in Holy Cross Cemetery Saturday morning, Dec. 17.

WAA is located in Columbia Falls and was founded by Morrill Worcester. Alice Robinson, the auxiliary chairperson for VFW Post 3335 chose WAA as her project. The post held a donation drive for the WAA program that provides one wreath locally for every two wreaths purchased for National veterans cemeteries.

Saturday, VFW Post 3335 Judge Advocate Jim Manter first had to plow the roadway that led past Frank L. Mitchell’s grave. Then David Lachapelle used a shovel to break a path to the gravestone while Manter booted away more snow and other participants walked in from Route 133.

Heavy snow Saturday morning, Dec. 17, meant changes had to be made at the wreath laying ceremony at Holy Cross Cemetery in Livermore Falls. Jim Manter kicks snow out of the way with his boot while David Lachapelle shovels snow near the gravestone of Frank L. Mitchell. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

“Welcome,” Manter said. “Thank you all for joining us here today as we celebrate the [Wreaths Across America] mission to remember the fallen, honor those that serve and their families and teach the next generation the value of freedom.”

A moment of silence was held to remember those who were killed, prisoners of war, or missing in action while serving and those who have or are currently serving. Father Paul Dumais of St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Jay and St. Joseph’s in Farmington gave a prayer.

“This year across the country at more than 3,400 participating locations like this one, there are millions of Americans gathering safely as one nation to remember, honor and teach,” Manter noted. “We are all proud to be Americans that live in a free society made up of many people from many walks of life. The freedoms we enjoy today have not come without a price.


“Lying here before us and in cemeteries throughout this nation are men and women who gave their lives so that we can live in freedom and without fear. We can worship as we see fit, raise our children to believe as we do. We are free to vote for the leaders of our choosing. And we have the right to succeed and the right to fail at whatever endeavor we wish to pursue.”

Janice Sweeney, an auxiliary member of VFW Post 3335 places pays respect Saturday morning, Dec. 17, after placing a wreath on the grave of Frank L. Mitchell in Holy Cross Cemetery in Livermore Falls. The post is named in honor of Mitchell, who served in the U.S. Army and was killed in World War I. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

America was founded on the ideals of freedom, justice and equality, Manter stated. This nation stands as a shining beacon of liberty and freedom to the world, those who gave their lives to keep it free are thanked and won’t be forgotten, he said.

“Today more than ever we reflect on our nation’s veterans and active duty service members who have and continue to fight to protect the innocent and oppressed,” Manter noted. “This nation has always been the first to stand up for the freedom of people from around the world. Many of you here today have answered that call and served your country well. For this we say thank you.”

Men and women serving in all branches of the military today were also thanked by Manter for being part of the best-trained, best equipped force in the world. He recognized the sacrifices their families make each day to keep the country safe from terrorism, hatred and injustice.

Manter quoted Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, “”Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.””

“Today we show a united front of gratitude and respect across the United States of America as we remember the fallen, honor those who serve and their families, and teach the next generation the value of freedom,” Manter said.

Saturday morning, Dec. 17, four wreaths [representing the four branches of the Armed Forces] and two American flags decorate the grave of Frank L. Mitchell in Holy Cross Cemetery in Livermore Falls. The decision was made to place most of the other 51 wreaths from Wreaths Across America on other veterans’ gravesites there at a later date after more than a foot of snow fell during the night with more still accumulating. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

Four wreaths were then placed in front of Mitchell’s gravestone by Dumais and Kim Cote, Pam Manter and Janice Sweeney – VFW Post 3335 auxiliary members – to represent the four branches of the armed forces [Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps]. The haunting notes of taps then echoed across the cemetery.

An additional 51 wreaths from WAA were to have been placed at the gravesites of other veterans interred at Holy Cross. It was decided to wait to do so given the amount of snow already on the ground and more falling.

Holy Cross is the 15th cemetery in Maine to decorate veterans’ graves with WAA support, Manter noted previously. There are 460 veterans interred at Holy Cross and over 1,598 veterans in all the cemeteries in the Jay, Livermore, and Livermore Falls area, he had stated. The goal is to eventually be able to place wreaths at all veteran graves like American flags are for Memorial Day, he had said.

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