Mary Blodgett will be at Forest Lawn Cemetery on Saturday no matter how cold or snowy the weather.
Like she has for the past seven years, Blodgett will coordinate Saturday's Wreaths Across America ceremony at Forest Lawn. The ceremony honors veterans and adorns their graves with evergreen Christmas wreaths with red bows.
Ten other Nebraska cemeteries will have similar ceremonies Saturday. Six ceremonies will take place in Iowa, including one at Plymouth County Veterans Memorial Park in Le Mars. Nationwide, 800 cemeteries will participate with 24 more outside the U.S. also taking part.
Omaha's ceremony, which begins at 11 a.m. at Forest Lawn, 7009 Mormon Bridge Road, will be near where a large cannon and a large U.S. flag stand. A lot of veterans are buried in that area, said Blodgett.
Veterans from U.S. wars will place the seven ceremonial wreaths — one each for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines and POW-MIAs — she said.
“I change every year on who I ask to lay the ceremonial wreaths,” she said. “I try to have a child walk with them as they lay a wreath.”
Wreaths Across America's motto is “Remember the fallen. Honor those who serve. Teach our children the value of freedom.”
If all the individual grave wreaths arrive in time, 77 will be placed Saturday on individual veterans' graves.
“Anyone who attends can lay a wreath if there are enough,” she said.
The Patriot Guard Riders always attend and will stand in a flag line.
Bill and Evonne Williams, organizers of the Remembering Our Fallen exhibit and the driving force behind the Honor Flights, will give the opening remarks.
VFW Benson Post 2503 will present the colors and the Elkhorn High School Concert Choir will sing.
Maj. Gen. Daryl Bohac, adjutant general of the Nebraska National Guard, will be the guest speaker. Mayor Jean Stothert also will attend.
Blodgett relies on donations from friends, colleagues, civic groups and money raised through the Wreaths Across America website.
“I don't do a lot of fundraising,” she said.
For more information about Wreaths Across America, to donate to it or to schedule a fundraiser, visit wreathsacrossamerica.org. The donation code for the ceremony at Forest Lawn is NEFLCO. That code and all the other Nebraska ones are at the website, too.