Wreaths Across America Annual observance honors America’s fallen heroes
By Douglas Graves
Special to The Press
As black granite tombstones poked through 10-inches of snow covering the slopes of Fountain Hill Cemetery on Dec. 19, 2020, and clear notes from bugler George Van Doren sounded “Taps,” Lehigh Valley residents gathered to pay respects to the veterans interred there.
Pastor Sandy Birchmeier of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Bethlehem, provided the benediction.
During the short ceremony, representatives came forward and, one by one, placed an evergreen wreath fastened by a scarlet bow on crosses representing each of the Armed Forces and the Merchant Marines.
For the most part, veterans of each of the services performed the duty honoring their military comrades.
Ron Frankenfield, in charge of Wreaths Across America at Fountain Hill Cemetery, officiated the service and read the number of veterans representing each service resting beneath snow on the cold hill side.
According to Frankenfield, 312 veterans are buried at Fountain Hill Cemetery.
“Each one got a wreath,” said Frankenfield, who has conducted the service for the past five years.
Following the ceremony, volunteers took wreaths and fanned out over the hillside looking for grave sites marked with small American flags denoting a veteran’s final resting place.
The frozen snow crunched under the wreath layers’ boots as they made their separate ways between impressive obelisks, ornately-carved granite tombstones and simpler snow-covered markers of bronze invisible but for the small flags and a round, bronze Veteran’s Affairs medallion marking graves beneath the snow.
Bethlehem Detachment 284 of the Marine Corps League members Glenn Rader and Douglas Graves, both of Upper Macungie Township, provided the color guard. Master Gunnery Sgt. Carl Schroeder, of Coopersburg, commanded the flag detail.