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Lenore Combs

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Harlingen Retiree Working to Lay a Wreath on Every Veteran’s Grave

by Rocio Villalobos

Lenore Combs of Sunshine Country Club Estates is getting ready for National Wreaths Across America Day when she will help lead the Opening Ceremony at Pendleton Park in Harlingen. Following the ceremony, she and other volunteers from the Veterans’ Memorial Project Committee (VMPC) will head to local cemeteries to lay hundreds of wreaths atop veterans’ tombstones.

The mission of the ceremony, and of the VMPC, said Combs, is “to remember the fallen, honor those who served, and teach the children.”
She and her husband, John--who both served in the Air force--helped plan the first local National Wreaths Across America Day event last December and were able to cover nine Harlingen cemeteries.

“One of my favorite moments was the surprise of how many people showed up at the opening ceremony,” Combs said. “That was pretty astonishing. We put out 200 chairs, and people were standing. It was stuffed.”

Combs hopes to grow the ceremony Valleywide and has already begun reaching out to other cities. Wreaths Across America Day is currently celebrated at 1,600 locations throughout the United States and abroad.

To find local veterans to honor with a wreath, she and volunteers--who range from Girl Scout troops to churches to American Legion members--call cemeteries to ask where these patriots are buried.

“They say a veteran dies two times: the physiological death and the second death when nobody remembers them,” said Combs. “So it’s very important to us to help get the message out.”

Combs invites the community to check out the VMPC website (harlingenveterans.com) and to volunteer for their events, which also include a Veterans Day and Memorial Day tribute. Wreaths can be purchased and donated on the website for $15.

Wreaths Across America Day in Harlingen will be held this year at 11 a.m. Saturday, December14 at Pendleton Park, 1425 Morgan Boulevard. For information about how to participate, visit harlingenveterans.com.

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