April 24, 2014

Mostly cloudy

Family places wreaths in Arlington Cemetery

MEDINA — A local Vietnam veteran and his family traveled to Washington, D.C., in early December to place Christmas wreaths on gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery.

Steve Brubaker, 64, of Medina, who served as a sonar technician in the Navy between 1967 and 1971, described the experience as “phenomenal.”

From left, son-in-law David and daughter Jodi Anderson, of Bowling Green, with parents Steve and Eileen Brubaker, of Medina, hold Christmas wreaths that they placed on graves Dec. 14 in Arlington National Cemetery. (COURTESY PHOTO)

“Certainly we’ll be doing it again,” he said. “It was extremely emotional for me.”

Brubaker, along with his wife, Eileen, their daughter Jodi Anderson and her husband David were among 20,000 volunteers who participated in the “Wreaths Across America” project. On the morning of Dec. 14, the family watched as a military escort accompanied 41 semi trucks filled with wreaths to the cemetery.

“Tears were in everyone’s eyes,” Brubaker said. “There were 145,000 wreaths placed on the graves, and it was a beautiful sight to see.”

As part of their trip, the family toured the Capitol and the White House and visited the Navy Museum. Brubaker said he saw a photo of the ship he was stationed on, the U.S.S. Brinkley Bass.

Brubaker said the organization hopes to place wreaths on every grave at Arlington next year. “To do that, more volunteers are needed, and more donations for the wreaths,” he said. “Anyone can come to help places the wreaths.” There are more than 400,000 graves at Arlington.

To donate, or to find out how to send a wreath to a veteran, visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org. The organization decorates military cemeteries all over the country.

Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.