Civil War soldier Adolphus Jones, Indian War veteran Woodford Pullen and Spanish-American War serviceman Samuel Cooper were buried long ago, but they are not forgotten.
The 20-year-old Rock Island Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution will lay wreaths honoring the graves of American veterans Saturday in the Eldon City Cemetery, beginning with a wreath for each branch of the Armed Services then the oldest graves, as an outward sign the memory of those veterans lives on.
"There are graves out in the cemetery that have kind of been forgotten, so it is neat to honor those graves; and as we place a wreath, we say their names and give them recognition thanking them for their service," said second-year Rock Island Chapter member Jamie Morrow, who formerly operated Scrivner Funeral Home in Russellville.
Eldon is among more than 1,200 locations with groups participating in Wreaths Across America. The DAR will hold the event in partnership with the Eldon area VFW, Lions Club, American Legion, Free Masons, Chamber of Commerce and other area organizations.
The public is invited to join by sponsoring a wreath for $15. So far, 180 wreaths have been prepared, 45 of which were sponsored by area families.
"It's very emotional," Becky Thomas, of Lohman, said. "I think it's wonderful that we can do it in their memory."
Rock Island Chapter Regent Marcia Davis, of Stover, said the 48 members of the chapter have accumulated well more than 2,000 hours of service work, much of which was dedicated to honoring U.S. veterans who gave some or all of their lives in service of Americans like themselves. The Wreaths Across America program is the culmination of the chapter's various efforts to honor veterans while educating local young people of their sacrifices.
"We got started (in Wreaths Across America) because we wanted to honor our veterans," Davis said. "We have a large geographic area that we cover but because we met in Eldon, we wanted to start with that cemetery."
Davis said the chapter is willing to help other area groups begin their own Wreaths Across America ceremonies next year.
VFW members are set to perform a 21-gun salute and "Taps" during the ceremony. Eldon Mayor Larry Henderson and the Rev. Bill Foglesong will speak before the wreaths are laid. By the time the event is complete, the burial ground will be filled with the evergreen symbol of life and renewal.
Morrow said it's a dreary time of year, so it's wonderful to see the wreaths laid and know life goes on for those the veterans fought for.
"It's so beautiful to see it, because of the liveries with that rich green color with the red bows on them, it just moves you to tears with the headstones around them," agreed Rock Island Chapter Vice Regent Barbara Wever, of Rocky Mount. "It brings a sense of joy to a cemetery, I think, to see the wreaths there. It's another way to say thank you; without them we would not have the freedoms we have."