My name is Ashleigh Jarvis-Flinn and I am the PROUD granddaughter of the late Major Roger J. Flanik. I am working towards my Gold Award for Girl Scouts, which is the most prestigious award Girl Scouts can achieve.
The Gold Award is to "demonstrate leadership through take-action projects, that have sustainable impact in our communities and beyond." In other words, we are challenged to change our world for the better by identifying an issue, investigating it, creating a plan and THEN taking action which includes educating others about our issue.
I chose to help a non-profit organization called "Wreaths Across America" not only to honor my Grandpa, but to honor EVERY veteran buried there, because each veteran deserves to be remembered and commemorated for the ULTIMATE sacrifice they made for our country...for you and for me. There are more than 1,400 veteran cemeteries that take part in Wreaths Across America each year.
I chose the Dayton National Cemetery as my sponsor project with Wreaths Across America, where my grandpa is buried. But first, let me tell you a little about the cemetery itself.
This cemetery was established in 1867 and as of today, there are more than 51,000 veterans interred there. Soldiers from the Civil, Spanish-American, and Indian Wars are buried there, as well as a few jazz/blues musicians, such as Joe Henderson, Joseph "Big Joe" Duskin and Johnnie Wilder, Jr. from the R&B group "Heatwave." I didn't know this, but "Private" Wilder served in the US Army, and years later helped write and perform one of my mom's favorite songs, "Always and Forever." Two professional baseball players, Tommy Henrich and Stubby Magner, are also buried at the Dayton National Cemetery.
Although this cemetery is the eternal resting place for many fallen heroes, I'm partial to one in particular...my hero, my "Grandpa Ohio." He lived with my grandma in Dayton, which meant our visits were incredibly special, because we didn't get to see each other as often as we would have liked. His radio announcer voice, belly laughs and huge hugs are what I miss the most. We spent every Christmas together since the day I was born. But Grandpa was a hero LONG before I was even a thought! He was awarded 5 Air Medals for combat missions over North Vietnam during the Vietnam War. On April 2nd, 1972, he earned the Distinguish Flying Cross for successfully evading an attack from several surface-to-air missiles that were fired at his plane by the North Vietnamese. He also flew the last combat mission out of Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base in 1973.
Our lives changed forever when Grandpa went home to God on May 21, 2016. The following December, my family and I made the decision that every Christmas, we will place a wreath at Grandpa's headstone during the Wreaths Across America "Laying of the Wreaths" ceremony. We will pass this tradition down to future generations to come. Because we want everyone to remember what an amazing man he was. An amazing husband, father, grandfather, and pilot.
But not every veteran there is as lucky as my Grandpa. With over 51,000 graves at the cemetery, sadly, many veterans do not receive a wreath. In many cases, it's because their families have passed on as well, or simply that not everyone knows about Wreaths Across America.
What touched my heart was knowing that each time a wreath is placed upon a grave, that veteran's name, at that particular gravesite, is said OUT LOUD. What a perfect way to honor and validate that they still matter to us, and will never be forgotten.
Please help me achieve my goal to try and remember every veteran at Dayton's National Cemetery this December. I KNOW we can do this! And please feel free to pass this along to all of your friends who may want to help us achieve this goal.
On behalf of me and my family, I want to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being a part of our lives, or if you were lucky enough to have known my Grandpa, for being a part of his. He is missed so much but will live on through our hearts, our humor, and our acts of kindness.
God Bless Grandpa, and God Bless America.
4400 W 3rd St
Dayton, OH 45428
Click here for the Dayton National Cemetery Page
Directions to Cemetery
Navigation systems do an adequate job finding the cemetery. When you arrive, please follow the people and signs to the site of the ceremony itself.
Parking InstructionsThere is plenty of parking at this cemetery, so feel free to park in any available spot.
Ceremony and Volunteer Information
We are happy that you are willing to help with our Wreath Across America ceremony at Dayton National Cemetery. Please do not forget to register to volunteer! That way you will get all updates about the cemetery itself.
Here are some things to remember about the ceremony:
- Everyone of all ages and backgrounds is welcome.
- Ceremonies around the world will be starting at the same moment, so please be on time.
- Please help ensure that all participants get the opportunity to place a wreath.
- Please follow the location coordinators instructions on where to place wreaths, as well as "how" they should be placed.
- We especially appreciate volunteers willing to help clean-up. Please check in with the location coordinator if you are interested in helping with the clean-up.
The most important thing to remember is to have a wonderful experience participating in the ceremony and thank you so much for help Wreaths achieve our mission to remember, honor and teach.