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NEWS | Dec. 21, 2022

Wreaths Across America ceremony honors veterans and first responders at local cemetery

By Staff Sgt. David Lietz 85th U.S. Army Reserve Support Command

If you drive by this cemetery alongside the interstate 90 off ramp, in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, you might not know that two Revolutionary War veterans are buried in this hallowed ground: Eli Skinner and Aaron Miner.

The only two in Cook County, according to Jane Gregga, Eli Skinner Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution and Chapter Coordinator for Wreaths Across America.

Skinner was a teenager when he enlisted for eight months with the Massachusetts State Troops in May 1775. He was a fifer whose job involved playing a wooden flute with an important purpose. His duty could include communicating an officer’s order, like a change in battle formation, to other Soldiers over a long distance.

Miner enlisted in the Connecticut Militia during May 1775 for seven months as a teenager. He took part in the Battles of Long Island and White Plains, New York. Both veterans relocated to the northwest suburbs in their old age and were buried at the Elk Grove Cemetery in Illinois.

On a cold, 24-degree morning, local veterans along with staff from the 85th U.S. Army Reserve Support Command, and community members gathered for a brief ceremony to lay wreaths at the graves of Soldiers and first responders for the 31st annual Wreaths across America Day, December 17, 2022.

“This year, across the country at more than 3700 locations, millions of Americans are saying thanks to honor our veterans,” said Gregga. “As we stand before their headstones, we will say their names aloud.”

Following a prayer and presentation of colors, from a youth honor guard, Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson laid a wreath at the grave of Eli Skinner. He reflected on the sacrifices made by Soldiers and service members in his own family.

“We are here today to honor the sacrifice that so many made for us. My uncle Al was in the Battle of the Bulge during World War Two. He was a technician,” said Johnson. “He could set up equipment. My mom said he weighed about 120 pounds when he got out of a German prisoner of war camp. For us, to stand out here in the cold is a minor sacrifice. We lay the wreaths to say thank you and show our respect. These Soldiers should never be forgotten.”

On National Wreaths Across America Day more than 3,700 locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea and abroad participate in wreath-laying ceremonies to show veterans and their families that they will never be forgotten.

The country’s largest event was held at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington D.C. This year, at Arlington National Cemetery specifically, 257,000 veterans’ wreaths were placed by more than 28,000 volunteers.

Brig. Gen. Richard Corner, Commanding General, 85th USARSC, and his family laid wreaths at the graves of Soldiers and first responders there.

“It’s an excellent way to honor the sacrifices made throughout the centuries,” Corner said.

Next year’s National Wreaths Across America Day will be held on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023.