North Gwinnett H.S. Air Force JROTC Cadet, Marianna Phillips, prepares to lay wreaths on veterans’ graves, to show gratitude for their service and sacrifice. (Photo by Frank Marchese)

On December 18th, National Wreaths Across America Day 2021, a fresh balsam wreath from Maine was laid on every veteran’s grave during a rainy ceremony at East Shadowlawn Memorial Gardens in Lawrenceville.


The Philadelphia Winn Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), hosted what has become an annual event to support the WAA mission of REMEMBER the fallen, HONOR those who serve, and TEACH the next generation the value of freedom.

Gwinnett organizations that participated included Cadets from the North Gwinnett High School Air Force JROTC program; the Button Gwinnett Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution (SAR); the Elisha Winn Society, Children of the American Revolution (C.A.R.); the award-winning Georgia State SAR Color Guard and Militia (GASSAR); and Girl Scout Troop 3314 from Buford.

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The ceremony’s special guest was Chairwoman Nicole Hendrickson from Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners. The guest speaker was LTC Craig Knowlton, U.S. Army (retired) from Lilburn, who served our country for 32 years, including deployments in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq, and Qatar. The National Anthem was sung by Philadelphia Winn Chapter Regent, Connie Rifkind of Lilburn. Ceremony attendees were led in the Pledge of Allegiance by Elisha Winn Society C.A.R. member, Haley Hart of Braselton.
The ceremony included honoring all branches of service, including the newest military branch, the U.S. Space Force. Veterans, JROTC Cadets, and C.A.R. First Vice President Eliza Long, laid remembrance wreaths at the cemetery’s Veterans’ Memorial. The first ceremonial wreath was laid by 97-year-old Luis Castano from Loganville, a World War II veteran who moved to the United States from Columbia, South America when he was 18 years old.

The formal ceremony concluded with the musket firing of a 3-round volley by the SAR Militia and the playing of TAPS by Noah Tindall, a C.A.R. State and Elisha Winn Chapter Officer, and a member of the SAR Color Guard.