- Associated Press - Saturday, October 1, 2016

GRAFTON, W.Va. (AP) - It is often said that history repeats itself.

For the Webster Baptist Church, that has come to pass.

The church was used as a campground for Civil War soldiers before they went to Philippi.

So when the church’s membership dropped to five older adults it decided to dissolve and donate the building to Fellowship Mission Church, whose church was badly damaged in storms last year.

The trustee had to donate the money it had in the treasury.

One of the donations that the church made was $5,000 for the Wreaths Across America program to decorate the graves of soldiers in the Grafton National Cemetery on Walnut Street in Grafton.

“It was so awesome when I got the call and they said, ‘We would like to donate to Wreaths Across America the last few dollars we have from the church. We are going to close out the account,’” Buddy Myers, chairman of the board of the West Virginia Patriot Guard said.

The Patriot Guard has been involved with Wreaths Across America for many years, but this is the first year that the guard has coordinated a cemetery.

Its goal is to place a wreath on every grave.

Wreaths Across America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded 25 years ago. It expanded the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

The mission is to remember fallen U.S. veterans, honor those who serve and teach children the value of freedom.

“There is so much history here,” Myers said. “One of Wreaths Across America’s goals is teaching. We are able to teach here. We are able to walk in here and see Civil War heroes buried. World War I and World War II heroes are buried here.”

The Grafton National Cemetery is the final resting place of 2,100 veterans. Of those 2,100, 1,252 are Union soldiers. Of those 1,252 Union soldiers, 613 were buried as unknowns.

It is in that cemetery that the first casualty of the Civil War is buried.

Thornsberry Bailey Brown was shot on May 22, 1861 when he refused to halt to a Confederate sentry. Brown fired on the sentry, hitting him in the ear. The sentry returned fire, killing Brown.

The donation will help buy approximately 450 wreaths with the buy-two-get-one program now being offered with Wreaths Across America.

“We are all veterans-minded. We wanted to help out with the wreaths,” Nancy Bartlett, a trustee of the Webster Baptist Church, said. “This cemetery is kind of forgotten since the new National Cemetery opened in (1987) in Pruntytown. This cemetery has character. These are the old boys who did it all.”

Bartlett remembers going to church and reading names of Civil War soldier and letters to their families and sweethearts that were written on the wallpaper of the church and seeing blood on the wall.

“It was really interesting,” Bartlett said. “In the front of the church they wrote their names and their ranks and what year they were in.”

When the church was remodeled 10-15 years ago the wallpaper was plastered over.

The Patriot Guard has a goal of placing a wreath on every grave at the Grafton National Cemetery.

With the donation from the church and other funds they are almost halfway to their goal.

“We now have funds for about 1,000 wreaths,” Myers said. “If everything keeps clicking we will make our 2,104.”

Wreaths are $15 each, and the wreath-laying ceremony will be held at noon Dec. 17.

“We need to do God’s work and do all we can for the veterans,” Bartlett said. “The veterans are very important to this country.”

___

Information from: Times West Virginian, http://www.timeswv.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide