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11:31 AM Wed, Sept. 19th

Wreaths Across America volunteers honor veterans at Prescott National Cemetery

Lisa Irish/The Daily Courier

Lisa Irish/The Daily Courier

Cis Tiensvold and her husband Mark Tiensvold, members of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, lay wreaths beside a veterans' gravestones at the Prescott National Cemetery on Friday afternoon.

"We came up from Phoenix to help honor our veterans," Cis said.

As part of Wreaths Across America, volunteers from the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, American Legion Post 6, American Gold Star Mothers, Prescott Civil Air Patrol, Patriot Guard Riders, American Legion Riders Post 40, and Boy Scout Troop 7617 placed 683 wreaths on veterans' graves on Friday.

"Veterans gave us this freedom, and we should give back to them and our community," said Tanner Jackson, a Boy Scout with Troop 7617 in Chino Valley, who also helped lay wreaths at the cemetery.

A ceremony will be held at the flagpole in the cemetery 10 a.m. today to honor veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice, said Lorie Smith with the Patriot Guard Riders.

"The purpose of Wreaths Across America is to remember, honor and educate," Smith said. "Remember and honor veterans for their sacrifice, and teach children about what members of their community have done for this country."

There will be benches available nearby and parking is available at the bottom, top and sides of the cemetery, said Ame Callahan, spokeswoman for the Northern Arizona Veterans Affairs Health Care System.

Smith will make the opening remarks, then wreaths honoring each branch of the military service will be presented, a wreath will be laid for the unknown soldiers and prisoners of war, then American Gold Star Mothers and American Blue Star Mothers will present wreaths as well, and Mayor Marlin Kuykendall will make the closing remarks, Smith said.

Chuck Leon, finance officer of the American Legion Post 122 in Cordes Lakes said he helps with Wreaths Across America in honor of his brother.

"My brother was on ski patrol with the 10th Mountain Division when he went missing on the 20th of January 1944," Leon said. "He has a headstone at Arlington, and I know someone is setting a wreath there for him, and I do the same for veterans here in his honor."

This is the 20th year the Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, will send thousands of wreaths to be placed at individual gravesites at Arlington National Cemetery and to all VA national cemeteries and state veterans cemeteries in the nation.

Community organizations, school groups and individuals have been purchasing and placing wreaths at veterans' cemeteries across the country for several years and hundreds are expected to do so again this week.