Most Viewed Stories
Those who served remembered
Sherry Swanson wiped her eyes as she laid a wreath on her father's grave.
Her tears flowed freely at the Odd Fellow Cemetery on Saturday, even though her father, Vernon Van Natta, has been dead for more than 20 years.
The second annual Wreaths Across America ceremony honored Orland's men and women who stood up for the freedom of people all over the world.
The ceremony coincided with the Wreaths Across America event at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia and about 400 cemeteries across the nation, said organizer Dottie Tefelski.
To the families who gathered in Orland on a cold December morning, it brought back a flood of memories.
"My father was such a great man," Swanson said. "He loved his children so much. I wish he could have been here to know his grandchildren. He would have spoiled them to death."
Volunteers, including Orland firefighters, put more than 600 wreaths, sponsored through local donations, on the graves of veterans in the Odd Fellows Cemetery, Catholic Cemetery, the Masonic Cemetery and the Graves Cemetery on Newville Road near Black Butte Lake.
There are 642 veterans buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery, and another 550 buried in the others.
The Friends of the Orland Cemetery District conducted the ceremony, which included the placement of six ceremonial wreaths for the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines, and the placement of one ceremonial wreath for those missing in action.
"The freedoms we enjoy today have not come without a price," said Art Leonard, Orland Cemetery District director, who served as master of ceremonies. "Lying here before us and in cemeteries throughout the nation are men and women who gave their lives so that we can live in freedom and without fear."
The event was well attended by the families of those who served in the military, some coming as far away as Sacramento.
Swanson, who now lives in Chico, spoke of her father's legacy as a cook onboard a Navy battleship in World War II.
"My father loved to cook," she said. "He taught me how to cook, and I have taught my son how to cook. Hopefully, my son will teach his children how to cook."
More than 60 veterans honored on Saturday were killed in action, including Pvt. Tommy Thompson, 28, who fought and died with the US Marine 67 Company in World War I and US Marine Sgt. Harvey Parkerson III, 27, who died in 2004 while fighting in Najaf, Iraq.
The wreaths, Leonard said during the ceremony, represented a commitment by Orland to remember the fallen, to symbolize the honor shown to those who served or are serving, and to remember the sacrifices endured everyday by their families.
"We will not forget," he said.
The Wreaths Across America ceremony, like the one at Arlington and elsewhere, was quite formal, and included the opening flag ceremony by the Glenn County Sheriff's honor guard.
The Orland High School Trojan Band played the hymns of each branch of the service, and local veterans raised the flags for their branch of service.
For 10-year-old Christian Medina, it was a touching moment as he watched his older brother play in the band and his uncle, Pete Ramirez, raise the flag of the US Marines.
"I was very proud," Medina said.
Orland VFW Commander Floyd Morrill also spoke during the ceremony and reminded those who gathered to thank those in uniform.
Tefelski said later that she was pleased with the event and the turnout on Saturday, and believes there were more in attendance than last year.
Some people escaped the cold by watching the ceremony from their vehicles parked on the street, she said, but most braved the near-freezing temperature in the cemetery courtyard.
CONTACT Susan Meeker at 934-6800 or email@example.com.