CENTREVILLE — The Jefferson Davis Post 18 American Legion Riders celebrated Wreaths Across America Day by laying wreaths on the graves of veterans at Chesterfield and Church Hill cemeteries Saturday, Dec. 14.

Among the fallen heroes was World War I private and namesake of Post 18, Jefferson Davis, whose grave also was adorned with a wreath. During the ceremony, a wreath was also placed in honor of each branch of military service and for soldiers considered POW and MIA.

Delivering the main address was Command Sgt. Maj. Diane May who spoke about the cost of freedom and the need to remember those who currently serve and veterans that have passed on. During her speech, she recalled lessons learned in 25 years of both active and reserve service in the military.

“As a soldier, I’ve lived the Army values for 25 years, and I’ve come to the conclusion that all the organizations taking part today operate on those values,” May said. “We must remember the fallen because if we don’t, their sacrifice will be meaningless. By remembering their sacrifice, we recognize the tradition of freedom that these men and women fought to preserve.”

May said by doing so, we pass that recognition to the next generation of Americans and those who will also choose military service.

“I’m alive today because of the service of many others who have stepped forward and were heroic and selfless,” May said.

Ken “Radar” Huddleston, director of the American Legion Riders program from the Jeff Davis Post 18, echoed those sentiments amid families lining up to receive wreaths to place on veterans’ graves.

“Today was the largest crowd we’ve ever had and the American Legion Riders were founded in philanthropy and with that comes fundraising,” Huddleston said. “That comes through our Game of Hearts and Friday night dinners. We’ve inspired others to support those with limited resources with programs like this. A veteran dies once in service, but they die another time if they’re forgotten.”

Huddleston noted that Jefferson Davis was the first individual from Queen Anne’s County to fall in combat in World War I. He was laid to rest in theater before he was moved to Church Hill Cemetery.

As families shared a moment with specific loved ones buried at both Chesterfield and Church Hill cemeteries, they, too, recalled what May cited as “the price of freedom buried in the ground.”

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