ELY, MN– A small group is working together to honor military service members ahead of Veterans Day.
In below freezing temperatures, Jeremiah Heesaker, his friend Theresa Miller, and her grandson located more than 130 graves of service members at the Ely Cemetery, adding a wreath with an american flag on top of each one.
It’s a way to honor local veterans and their families before the holiday season.
“We wanted to put them out before Veterans Weekend so all the families, when they come up to see their veterans graves, they can see the flag, the wreath and all that for their family member,” Ely resident Jeremiah Heesaker said.
This cause is near to Heesaker’s heart.
“I served in the military, in the 101st Airborne and Band of Brothers, I was active duty in the Army, and I served overseas. I want everybody to know that veterans and their sacrifices will always be remembered,” Heesaker said.
Heesaker said their group of about 5 people is the only one that participates in Wreaths Across America at the Ely Cemetery.
“We’ve had volunteers and friends, and its a group effort. Everyone pitched in, and we got it done. So we’re happy,” Heesaker said.
Theresa Miller also played a huge part in laying the wreaths this year. She owns Just Bite Me Miller’s Bait Shop in Babbitt, Minnesota.
Her shop helps supply the materials, and she has helped make the wreaths for the past 2 years.
“We all sit in the back of my shop tables, with the hoops, the rings, the clamps, and with the family and a few friends, we put together 130 to get ready as fast as we can,” Miller said.
Miller’s husband is also veteran. She has found both a great friendship in Heesaker, and a special passion for the project.
“Veterans melt my heart. They’ve given us everything for their life, and this is just a little part that we can give back,” Miller said.
This was all part of the Wreaths Across America program, which coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies on veterans graves every year across the country.
The group in Ely plans to finish laying wreaths on Friday.
Heesaker said they also received donations for the project from the Ely Gospel Tabernacle Church.
You can find out more about the Wreaths Across America project here.