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Gresham VFW Auxiliary to host Wreaths Across America celebration Saturday, Aug. 20.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Gresham veteran Whitey Martin placed a wreath at his fathers grave last year during the Wreaths Across America event at Willamette National Cemetery.  A mobile museum is rolling into Gresham for the first time this month to educate and promote a national nonprofit endeavor that honors fallen soldiers across the country.

Wreaths Across America is teaming up with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary Post 180 to have the Mobile Education Exhibit stop in Gresham during its national tour.

The exhibit, which has impressive displays educating about Wreaths Across America, is free and open to the public. It will be parked from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, at Gresham City Hall, 1333 N.W. Eastman Parkway.

The day will begin with a Patriot Guard escort of the mobile exhibit to City Hall that morning. A Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home Ceremony will take place at 1 p.m., with all local Vietnam vets invited to come and receive a national commemorative pin and certificate. And throughout the afternoon there will be booths from local veterans' organizations with information on membership, and help accessing services and benefits.

"The goal of the Wreaths Across America Mobile Education Exhibit is to bring community together and teach patriotism while remembering the service and sacrifice of our nation's heroes," Karen Worcester, executive director of Wreaths Across America, said.

The mobile museum has interactive exhibits, short films and shared stories explaining about the national movement that places wreaths, 23 inches across and adorned with red bows, at the gravesites of veterans every Christmas.

That effort is spurred locally by the Gresham VFW Post 180 Auxiliary, with community members able to buy wreaths to honor their loved ones.

"The hope is to someday say every veteran, no matter where they lie, gets a wreath on their grave during the holiday," said Patricia West, treasurer of the Gresham VFW Auxiliary.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Wreaths can be purchased and placed at veteran gravesites across the country. The wreaths, which will be available at the mobile exhibit and weekly at the Gresham Farmers Market, are $15 to purchase, with free shipping to whichever cemetery you choose. There are also bundle options to purchase multiple wreaths. You can also purchase a wreath online through the Gresham VFW Auxiliary at wreathsacrossamerica.org/OR0064P. Each wreath sold by the local group leads to a $5 donation toward Gresham veterans at no extra cost to the customer.

A wreath-laying ceremony will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, at Willamette National Cemetery, 11800 Mt. Scott Boulevard. Community members and volunteers are welcome to join.

"A lot of the times the families who took care of those graves are gone," West said. "The volunteers say the name of the veterans, thank them for their service, salute, then lay down the wreath. As long as those names are spoken out loud, they are never forgotten."


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