2017-07-14 / Faith

Wreaths honor veterans’ sacrifices

By Ian Bradley
Special to the Acorn

The Fourth of July has just passed. And while most people were thinking about hot dogs, fireworks and backyard barbecues, Bob Pratt was looking ahead to another holiday— Christmas.

Pratt’s thoughts have turned to the winter holiday while folks are taking summer vacations because it takes the better part of a year to raise the $45,000 he needs to buy 3,000 wreaths to decorate the graves of veterans in Ventura County.

He’s working locally on behalf of Wreaths Across America, a nonprofit that organizes ceremonies to place wreaths on U.S. veterans’ graves around the world.

Pratt is in charge of raising funds for cemeteries in Ojai, Camarillo and Simi Valley.

“We do it to honor and teach the kids about sacrifices people made. Whether they were in combat or not is immaterial,” Pratt said. “If they served their country that’s all we’re concerned about. We have a saying: Nobody dies unless their name is never used, then they die a second death.”

The Wreaths Across America ceremony will be at 9 a.m. Sat., Dec. 16. Wreaths are placed on gravestones by volunteers, who are encouraged to read the name aloud and take the time to learn about the veteran.

Each wreath costs $15, and donors choose the cemetery where it will be placed.

Pratt solicits donations from local businesses and nonprofit organizations, both military and civilian, and encourages donors to reach out to friends and family for more donations. He is also in need of volunteers to place wreaths on the day of the ceremony.

He hopes to see a steady stream of donations in the months to come, though he realizes many people won’t decide to buy a wreath until it’s closer to the holiday season.

“There are many who wait until the last minute and give during more emotional holidays like Thanksgiving, when that family member they lost would be eating with them.”

There is a GoFundMe page for those who wish to donate, or checks can be sent to Wreaths Across America, P.O. Box 156, Moorpark, CA 93020. Those who wish to volunteer can call Pratt at (805) 501-7400.

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