By Brittany Pearson, Office Technician
California State Prison, Solano
On a recent frosty December morning, thousands of people ranging from young to seasoned with life’s experience gathered to celebrate, honor and remember our veterans who have been laid to rest at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery in Dixon. CSP-Solano inmate veterans donated funds to help with the effort to purchase wreaths.
The wreath laying is a tradition started by a business owner who had visited Arlington National Cemetery as a young boy. The visit made a lasting impact on his life so in 1992 he felt compelled to donate 5,000 surplus wreaths from his business to the cemetery for placement at the graves of our fallen heroes.
With national interest in the project having grown so great, in 2007 a dedicated group of volunteers formed Wreaths Across America as a non-profit group to continue and expand the mission to “remember, honor and teach.”
With the national movement underway, so too was the local movement which started in 2006 by a family believing in the duty to honor our veterans.
The grassroots effort began to procure and place wreaths at the graves of those laid to rest at the Sacramento National Veterans Cemetery in Dixon. To the amazement of many, all 300 graves were covered with the distinct green wreath adorned with the red ribbon. Year after year the Sacramento National Veterans Cemetery has benefited from the efforts of the communities it serves and received enough wreaths to honor all who are resting there. Nearly 19,000 wreaths were purchased with the donations from many, to be placed at veterans’ graves.
Of the 134 national cemeteries, the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery was the 124th in the nation, dedicated in 2004, and is the 13th busiest with an average of 15 burials per day Tuesdays through Thursdays, and in the high 20s or low 30s per day on Mondays and Fridays. At this time, there are over 29,000 veterans buried there in gravesites and internments.
As a tribute to those resting in the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery and a boost to the year-round fundraising efforts, the Veterans in Prison (VIP) inmate leisure time activity group (ILTAG) at CSP-Solano requested their own group participate in this fundraising effort.
Grateful for the opportunity to give back to the community and to their brothers and sisters in arms, the Level III inmates donated $253 from their trust accounts to the local non-profit organization responsible for providing the bulk of the wreaths, Rememberavet.net. (Editor’s note: Some websites may not be accessible from a CDCR computer.)
Rememberavet.net was grateful for the efforts of the VIP inmates and received the donation at the end of the Wreath Laying Ceremony Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016. The donation was presented by Community Resources Manager Tonya Parker-Mashburn on behalf of VIP.
“It was an honor to represent CDCR and the VIP members at this ceremony. I especially enjoyed honoring our fallen veterans by helping lay wreaths at some of the 18,800 graves. I’m proud the VIP inmates want to give back to the community in this way,” said Parker-Mashburn. “Their donation sponsored almost 32 wreaths. It was impressive seeing so many from our community coming to pay respect to our fallen heroes. It was a beautiful sight to see.”
Learn more about the national organization at Wreaths Across America.