A "Snowy" Wreaths Across America
This Saturday, December the 19th, 2020, Mount Olivet Cemetery will be hosting its third annual Wreaths Across America (WAA) Day. We won’t be alone, of course, but joined simultaneously by the famed Arlington National Cemetery down the road, and over 1,600 additional locations throughout the United States, and at sea and abroad. Each site will include a host of volunteers and sponsors celebrating WAA’s mission of Remembering, Honoring and Teaching through the placement of special wreaths on veteran graves. The wreaths we place are symbolic of these three tenets.
The symbolism of wreaths has been used at funerals since at least the time of Ancient Greece, to represent a circle of eternal life. Evergreen wreaths were laid at the burial place of early Christian virgin martyrs in Europe, the evergreen representing the victory of the eternal spirit over death.
By the Victorian era, the symbolism of flowers had grown to become an elaborate language, and the symbolism of funeral wreaths was no exception. Flowers represented life and resurrection. Specific flowers were used in funeral wreaths to represent particular sentiments. Cypress and willow were used for crafting wreath frames, and were associated with mourning by the Victorians.
For the last century, wreaths have been commonly laid at the tombs of soldiers and at memorial cenotaphs during Memorial Day and Remembrance Day ceremonies. Wreaths may also be laid in memory of persons lost at sea, either from an accident or due to navy action. In a memorial service at sea, the wreath is lowered to the water and set adrift.
Back to Mount Olivet, we have over 4,000 men and women buried here who served in the US military. Many of these participated in active combat in conflicts including the American Revolution, War of 1812, the Mexican War, American Civil War, Spanish-American War, the World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War and Afghanistan. As we do more and more research, we seem to find our total number of vets growing.
The famed five-star general George S. Patton, Jr. once said:
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived.”
I want to talk about a few of these men, and a woman, among those we will be honoring this weekend. Specifically, I will single out one buried within the confines of our World War II Monument, and cornerstone of our Wreaths Across America Day commemorations since December, 2018. This is located in Area EE which has 242 veterans buried within. Thirty men are buried in a half circle that helps comprise the World War II Monument. In the longer edition of this story found on www.mountolivethistory.com, I introduce readers to seven veterans resting in peace here in Area EE as let obituaries and news articles (found in local newspapers) do most of the storytelling of each of these former Frederick residents. In this shortened version, I will briefly summarize the life and death of S/Sgt Wesley Dewey Dolan.
Wesley Dewey Dolan
Among those men buried within the confines of the World War II Monument here at Mount Olivet, one was named Wesley Dewey Dolan. S/Sgt. Dolan was born on December 12th, 1922, who knows, had he lived through the war, he could have celebrated his 98th birthday earlier this week?
Wesley was the son of Mabel Belvin and Dewey Michael Dolan of Brunswick, at which place he spent his childhood. The Virginia native moved with his family to this place because his dad was employed as a brakeman for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. The family lived at 309 Maple Avenue and Wesley attended local schools. He graduated from Brunswick High School in 1940 and went to work as a clerk in a grocery store. He entered into military service on June 30th, 1942, possibly at the urging of his father who served in the United States Marine Corps in World war I, rising to the rank of staff sergeant.
To read the full version of this "Story in Stone" click the above image or go to www.MountOlivetHistory.com and look for "Stories in Stone" under the History Tab pulldown menu.