Amid the busy holiday season, many Americans took time last Saturday to stop and honor those who served our country by attending a special service at local cemeteries.
A large crowd gathered at the IOOF Cemetery in Farmersville, one of many locations in the U.S. hosting Wreaths Across America Day throughout the U.S, Saturday, Dec. 17, to remember, honor and teach by carrying out wreath-laying ceremonies.
The ceremony was hosted by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) Lodge 228.
Wreaths across America coordinator and IOOF board member Billie Goldstein was master of ceremonies for the event which took place on a stage at the north end of the cemetery.
As customary, the ceremony in Farmersville, and all others across the U.S., started promptly at 11 a.m.
Assisting Goldstein was Army veteran Darrell Moore of VFW Post 7426 who called the ceremony to order. Members of Boy Scout Troop 310 presented the colors, Justin Teel sang the National Anthem and City Manager Ben White gave the invocation.
Goldstein’s speech titled “What’s your why?” detailed how she learned about the WAA program last year and her experience sponsoring a wreath for veteran John Stroup at her first Wreaths Across America Ceremony at the Pecan Grove Cemetery in McKinney.
The veteran’s name, said Goldstein, sounded familiar and she “thought he was related to someone in town.”
It turned out, she said, that Stroup was killed in action at 20 years old, and he was the younger brother of Betty Vamvakus, a Farmersville resident.
“Out of all the graves, I got his name,” she said, reciting multiple facts that aligned with her father’s military career.
“He was on a B-26 and my daddy was killed on a B-26,” she said. “It was a God thing that’s all it was. It really meant a lot to me at that moment. I felt called to serve and do this.”
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