Members of the South Buxton Cemetery Association Board of Directors met last week to plan the Dec. 17 wreath ceremony. From left are Brent Hill, Barry Sargent, Chad Poitras, Richard Atkinson and John Myers. Robert Lowell / American Journal

Veterans buried in South Buxton Cemetery and Westbrook’s Woodlawn Cemetery will be remembered Saturday, Dec. 17, with Wreaths Across America ceremonies held at noon in conjunction with the national ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

South Buxton Cemetery Association has “a great program lined up,” according to its president, Richard “Sandy” Atkinson.

“This program is great for the veterans and also great for bringing our community together to ‘remember, honor and teach,'” Atkinson said, referring to Wreaths across America’s mission. “It is important to teach everyone about the value of freedom, especially our youngest citizens.”

Rolling Thunder Chapter 2 Maine is sponsoring the Westbrook observance, which begins at 11:55 a.m. at Woodlawn Cemetery,  380 Stroudwater St.

“It’s one of our favorite things to do,” said Rick Willoughby, president of the local Rolling Thunder group, which works to bring awareness to POW/MIA issues.

Wreaths Across America delivers thousands of wreaths from Maine to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia each December. This year, Gorham Police Sgt. David Bruni and Officer Eric Sanborn are among the convoy escorts, and they will participate in the ceremonies held at Arlington Saturday.



Southern Maine Marine Corps League will fire a salute Saturday at South Buxton Cemetery. File photo

Preceding the ceremony at cemetery at the intersection of routes 202 and 112, volunteers at 10 a.m. will place wreaths on veteran graves marked with U.S. flags.

Brent Hill, an association board director, said 539 veterans are buried at the cemetery.  Atkinson said 440 wreaths, paid for with donations, have been delivered.

At 11:45 a.m., Nancy Kneeland will toll the Tory Hill Church bell   summon participants to gather for the observance and a moment of silence at noon.

Radio talk show host Ray Richardson will deliver the keynote address. Buxton Select Board member Chad Poitras will lead the Pledge of Allegiance and recite the opening speech.

The memorial program will include patriotic music, a Southern Maine Marine Corps League honor guard rifle salute, a prayer of remembrance by the Rev. Daryl Lavway, bugler Mel Tukey playing “Taps,” and Travis Cote playing the bagpipes.


The Buxton Fire Department will provide the color guard.


A ceremony at Veterans Rest will commence at 11:55 a.m. with a moment of silence at noon. Mayor Michael Foley will be the featured speaker.

Grandchildren of veterans, Willoughby said, will lay wreaths that will “cover” Veterans Rest. Members of Westbrook High School’s Chamber Singers will perform, Master of Ceremonies Debra Willoughby said. The Rev. Scott Linscott will offer the benediction. Rolling Thunder member Melinda Hethcoat-Parke will read the POW/MIA prayer, and members Lisa Dyke, Charlie Limoggio and Jim Bourke also will provide readings.

Gracelyn Gauvin, 15, will play “Taps,” Lori True, David Cox and Andrew Rediker will conduct a flag folding ceremony, and Westbrook Fire Department will provide the color guard.

Organizers are hoping weather will cooperate and Atkinson is looking for a “large turnout and a great day.” The two ceremonies will be held regardless of conditions.

“Rain, snow, cold or shine, our vets survived all,” Atkinson said.

Willoughby agreed. “We have to do it no matter what,” he said.

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