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Greenleaf volunteers selling Christmas wreath sponsorships

Mary Lee Bailey Shelton
Special to the Bulletin
Greenleaf Cemetery volunteer, Jeannette Buris is pictured with the headstone of her husband's third great-grandfather, who was a Civil War veteran. Buris and other Greenleaf supporters hope to place Christmas wreaths on each veteran's grave at the historic cemetery.

“To be killed in war is not the worst that can happen. To be lost is not the worst that can happen... to be forgotten is the worst.” — Pierre Claeyssens (1909-2003)

Oh, the stories they could tell.

They are our fathers and mothers, our grandparents, our aunts and uncles, our teachers, our neighbors. They are the people who walked through the rice paddies, traversed the mine fields, fired the cannons, crashed into the Pacific, saw their brother scalped, liberated concentration camps. They are the ones who never slept peacefully again.

Veterans of every American war since, and including, the Texas Revolution, lay in rest at Greenleaf Cemetery. To keep their memories alive and honor their service, Greenleaf Cemetery volunteers propose honoring each veteran with a Christmas wreath this December.

Greenleaf Cemetery volunteers are working to sell enough Christmas wreath sponsorships at $15 each so that every veteran buried at Greenleaf will be honored, remembered and valued.

The wreath-laying ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 19, at 10 a.m., at Greenleaf Cemetery. The $15 wreaths are available by going to the Wreaths Across Greenleaf website at: www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/ TX0412P.

For every wreath sponsored through the Greenleaf Cemetery Association, Wreaths Across America will return $5 to Greenleaf to support our efforts to provide perpetual care for all who are laid to rest in this historic cemetery.

The project is part of Wreaths Across America, which aspires to place wreaths at every American veteran’s grave across the globe so we will remember our fallen veterans, honor those who serve, and teach children the value of freedom.

Greenleaf Cemetery veterans represent the Texas Revolution, the Civil War, both Union and Confederate soldiers, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War. Buffalo Soldiers are also interred at Greenleaf.

Webmaster for the Pecan Valley Genealogical Society, Danny Jones, compiles and maintains a list of burials in the Central Texas.

“When I began as webmaster for the Pecan Valley Genealogy Society I wished that veterans could have more than a small marker,” Jones explained. “In my book these are men of honor, and I decided to do something about it.”

And do something he did. He gathered a team of volunteers to investigate death certificates to record the veterans and take pictures of their grave markers. One volunteer, Nancy Almaguer, investigated 10,000 death certificates for the project. Other volunteers for the list of veterans buried at Greenleaf include Terry and Pam Teague, and Ed Walker, who photographed the markers.

Jones lists veterans from Heart of Texas counties at http:// www.hotvetsmem.com. The veterans are indicated by a star icon and a remembrance icon on their listing. Clicking the icons will show the relevant photo. If a deceased veteran is not on the list, those interested can email the information to pvgs.web@gmail.com.

Volunteers needed

"Wreaths Across America at Greenleaf would not be successful without the help of volunteers," said Steven Puckett, Greenleaf volunteer. "Greenleaf Cemetery needs volunteers of all ages to reach their goal of laying a wreath at every veterans' grave this Holiday season."

To volunteer to help, contact Mary Lee Shelton, Wreaths Across Greenleaf volunteer, at mlbs1@aol.com.

Jeanette Buris, also a volunteer at Greenleaf, said she is in awe of how many veterans lay in Greenleaf Cemetery and all the wars these Brown County veterans represent.

The Greenleaf Cemetery effort needs volunteers to:

• Lay wreaths at veterans' graves Dec. 19

• Sell wreath sponsorships

• Aid sponsors in placing orders online

• Reach children about America's veterans *schedule fund-raising events to sell wreaths *speak to civic organizations about participating

Checks for wreath sponsorships can be mailed to: Greenleaf Cemetery, P.O. Box 455, Brownwood, Texas 76804-0455.

The Greenleaf Cemetery Association is a 501(c)13 non-profit organization charged with the perpetual care of Greenleaf Cemetery, and was incorporated on April 10, 1923. The GCA, with a paid staff of four groundskeepers, is governed by eight volunteer Board Members. Brownwood’s Historic Greenleaf Cemetery, established in 1858, is owned by the City of Brownwood and managed and operated by the GCA. The cemetery grounds include historic rocked and gated entrances, 90 acres, 22,000 plus graves, old growth trees, abundant wildlife, paved and rocked roads, numerous Texas Historical Commission plaques, and perimeter fencing. Funding for the adequate care of the cemetery grounds/ongoing maintenance of GCA equipment/salaries of Staff, etc. comes from plot sales, burials (both traditional and cremations), donations, grants, events/fundraisers, and the annual City of Brownwood subsidy ($11,000.00).

Wreaths Across America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded to continue and expand the annual wreath- laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery begun by Maine businessman Morrill Worcester in 1992. The organization’s mission – Remember, Honor, Teach – is carried out in part each year by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies in December at Arlington, as well as at thousands of veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond.

Mary Lee Bailey Shelton, a former Brownwood resident and former Bulletin employee, now lives in New Mexico.