Marine’s mother to help lay wreaths as part of national project to honor veterans

Joan Snyder of North Hopewell Township, Pa. with her son’s dog, Alex, at a memorial garden in York, Pa. on Dec 7. Snyder’s son, Marine Sgt. Christopher Wrinkle, was killed July 31, 2011 while serving in Afghanistan. He died trying to save Tosca, his military service dog, and fellow Marines from a barracks fire. Snyder organized a local wreath-laying set for Dec. 15 as part of a national event, Wreaths Across America.  YORK (PA.) DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS – KATE PENN

Joan Snyder used to worry she would forget to think about her son, Marine Sgt. Christopher Wrinkle, after he died in Afghanistan in July 2011.

When Wrinkle died, “my first instinct was I was used to him being away, I was afraid we would just go about our day and not even think about him,” Snyder said.

These days, the North Hopewell Township woman is afraid her son will be forgotten by the people he was fighting for.

Marine Sgt. Christopher Wrinkle

Marine Sgt. Christopher Wrinkle

“Will our nation forget our veterans and what they did for us,” she asked. “It’s one thing, dying, but it’s another to be forgotten by a nation.”

With that in mind, Snyder and dozens of other volunteers will participate in Wreaths Across America Day on Dec. 15 by laying wreaths at several hundred local veterans’ graves. Wreath-laying and other ceremonies will take place at more than 600 sites in all 50 states plus Puerto Rico, Mexico, Panama, the Philippines and sites in Europe as part of the Wreaths Across America program.

This is the second year Snyder will participate in Wreaths Across America at Susquehanna Memorial Gardens in York, where her son is buried. She said approximately 600 wreaths have been sponsored or purchased to place at graves in Susquehanna Memorial Gardens.

There are nearly 30 other sites in Pennsylvania among the more than 600 that are part of the program.

Marcia Bahn, a Wreaths Across America volunteer leader at the Zion Lutheran Church Cemetery in Glen Rock, Pa., will participate in the event for the second year. She learned about the event through her children’s involvement in the People to People Student Ambassador program.

“It’s the People to People students who are laying the wreaths” in Glen Rock, Bahn said, noting there are about 150 graves in three cemeteries there where wreaths will be placed. The wreath laying will be done by volunteers who have already signed up, but a brief service will be open to the public, Bahn said.

She said the event is special for every one who participates.

“We have each of the students provide a moment of silence to reflect upon the veteran’s service to the country” when they lay the wreath at a grave, she said. “I’m sure that during that time they think of the (veteran’s) family.”

Snyder said the goal of Wreaths Across America is three-pronged.

“It’s a way to honor” veterans, “remember them and teach the next generation,” she said. “It’s a way to teach (youth) and get them to understand what the true cost (of freedom) is.

Snyder said she got involved because she “wanted to do something that would remember Chris but at the same time would look to the future.”

“I think it’s important that everybody knows what the cost (of freedom) is,” Snyder said. “My family knows it and so do a lot of other families.”

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About Wreaths Across America

Wreaths Across America started in 1992 when a wreath company in Maine had a surplus of wreaths during the holiday season, which the owner sent to Arlington National Cemetery to honor veterans buried there. Over the years, others joined in sending wreaths to Arlington, and the effort grew to include other national cemeteries.

In 2007, Wreaths Across America, a nonprofit, was formed. The wreath laying is held the second or third Saturday each December at more than 600 sites.

Wreaths are acquired through sponsorships and donations. To sponsor a wreath or find local places participating in the 2013 Wreaths Across America Day, visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org. Sponsorships may be made at specific sites.

About Marine Sgt. Christopher Wrinkle

Wrinkle, a Dallastown graduate, died July 31, 2011, in a barracks fire in Herat providence, Afghanistan.

A member of the Marines Corps Special Operations Command, Wrinkle trained dogs and their handlers. His dog, Tosca, was trained in bomb detection and tracking. When the fire broke out in Wrinkle’s barracks, he attempted to locate Tosca to get her out, but they both perished.

Wrinkle’s mother continues to care for his civilian dog, Alex, and looks for every opportunity to honor her son.

About the local events

The wreath laying at Susquehanna Memorial Gardens, York, is open to the public and will begin at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 15. A service will follow at noon.

Although the wreath laying at Zion Lutheran Church, Glen Rock, Dec. 15, is being done privately by volunteers, the public is welcome to attend a service there at noon.

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