A tribute to veterans

More than 1,600 cemeteries join in “Wreaths Across America,” a day in December when wreaths are placed on the graves of veterans, with the largest display taking place at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C. During this year’s Wreaths Across America on Dec. 14, Vineland Cemetery in Clarkston will also participate.

A Clarkston family with a long history of military service is helping bring a national program called “Wreaths Across America” to Vineland Cemetery in December.

Sherry Domaskin said she was inspired and emotional after seeing wreaths decorating the graves of veterans at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C. She and her husband, Ray, now hope to honor area veterans in the same manner.

“Arlington National Cemetery is beautiful any time of year,” Domaskin said, “but seeing all of those wreaths made me want to cry. Our son was deployed five times, and knowing what all of those families went through every time their loved ones were deployed, and the incredible love of country instilled in all of their hearts, is almost impossible to describe.”

The Domaskins have been working on the project with a group of volunteers, mostly made up of members of Clarkston High’s Class of 1968. Their goal is to decorate the graves of the 725 military veterans buried at Vineland Cemetery, and they are currently seeking donations and volunteers to help with placement Dec. 14.

“We will recognize major donors at the ceremony and hope to have volunteers and youth groups on hand to help out with the wreaths,” Domaskin said. “We will say each veteran’s name, thank them for their service and respectfully place a wreath on each grave.”

Vineland Cemetery will be joining more than 1,600 other cemeteries that participate in National Wreaths Across America Day. It’s a special time set aside to “remember, honor and teach,” Domaskin said.

“It is so amazing and patriotric to see. A lot of time and effort go into this program, and right before Christmas seems like a good time to keep our veterans and their sacrifices in our hearts and minds.”

The Domaskins, who lived in the D.C. area from 1998 to 2014, moved back to the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley five years ago. Sherry is the daughter of longtime Clarkston coach and teacher, Harley Williams, who now resides at the Idaho Veterans Home in Lewiston.

“Ray was born in the old hospital on Sixth Street, and I moved here in 1963,” she said. “Ray retired as a colonel in the U.S. Army, and our son and son-in-law are both retired military. We have a lot of veterans in our family.”

Domaskin said she contacted classmate Shelley Williams, who serves on the cemetery board, about bringing Wreaths Across America to Vineland.

“She was very excited about it, and the board agreed it would be a worthwhile project to do,” Domaskin said.

The endeavor is off to a great start, she said. The major sponsor is Potlatch No. 1 Financial Credit Union, and a local veterans’ organization has donated money, along with community members.

Each wreath costs $15, and people can make grave-specific contributions to honor their loved ones buried at Vineland Cemetery.

“We really appreciate the community’s support on this,” Domaskin said. “It’s so important to remember and recognize our veterans. We’re losing service members every single day. As we go about our daily lives, we need to remember there are people working very hard on our behalf, far away from their homes and loved ones.”

Anyone who is interested in donating money or volunteering can contact Domaskin at (703) 477-2226 or Judy Harris, office manager at Vineland Cemetery, at (509) 758-8761. More information about Wreaths Across America is available online at www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.

Sandaine may be contacted at kerris@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2264. Follow her on Twitter @newsfromkerri.

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