A Christmas wreath covered in frost, made of fresh noble fir . . .
… and trimmed with blue berried juniper, incense cedar and a bright red bow lay centered on the bronze grave marker of Army veteran William Patterson.
He is at rest in the oldest of the five veterans’ sections at the Mountain View Funeral Home, Memorial Park and Crematory in Lakewood, WA.
Since its first burial in 1915, over 100,000 interments have occurred at the park.
The cemetery conducts over 1300 burials annually and helps about 1400 families, many of which are those of veterans, with funeral services.
“Many of the families we serve are those of local veterans, and we take pride in honoring them, especially now,” said David Sweet, sales manager at Mountain View.
“Just look at the number of Christmas wreaths on their grave sites.”
A Proud Partnership with Mary Bridge
While the tradition of placing Christmas wreaths on the graves of passed veterans began in 1992 at Arlington National Cemetery, Mountain View started its own tradition of wreath laying 63 years ago.
It began when the funeral home partnered with Mary Bridge Hospital to raise money through the sale of wreaths in order to fund hospital programs.
Founded in 1955 in Tacoma, WA, Mary Bridge is southwest Washington’s only pediatric hospital and state-designated Level II Pediatric Trauma Center, and the only hospital in the South Sound dedicated to caring for the special health needs of children.
It also provided care for over 5,300 military dependents in 2018 alone.
“Through this long-standing relationship, we are able to honor our veterans and help Mary Bridge,” continued Sweet.
“We are sending a clear message, a message of profound thankfulness for their service, and the laying of wreaths at this time of the year is one way to honor these men and women,” said Sweet.
By laying wreaths, Mountain View revives an ancient Roman tradition.
Its circular shape originates from the wreaths, or coronas, that the Romans wore on their heads to honor their soldiers who defended their way of life.
As time passed, the circular shape of the wreath was believed to represent the Christian belief of a Second Coming; for those of other faiths, the wreath represented the notion of eternity.
Throughout history, wreaths have been made of evergreen branches, symbolizing the life of the earth that never dies.
As to Patterson’s wreath – and 4,200 more of them – it is the result of a partnership between Mountain View and the Lemon’s Beach Orthopedic Guild of the Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital.
“Over the years we’ve had the honor of partnering with Mary Bridge Hospital to raise money through the sale of wreaths to help the hospital,” continued Sweet.
All of the wreaths were laid by December 15th.
“Christmas is just that more special in knowing that these veterans have preserved our freedoms,” concluded Sweet.