Oklahoma Watches and Warnings

“No one should be forgotten at Christmas” :Wreaths Across America at old Fort Reno

FORT RENO, OKLAHOMA -- Few of them survive in pictures, old photographs from the bald 19th Century prairie, of a lonely Army outpost at Fort Reno.

They show cavalry men, Buffalo Soldiers, and Indian Scouts who served often far from home, and some who didn't make it home.

"If they're buried here," says Tom Webb, "They were stationed here.

Webb didn't know much about Fort Reno when he started his journey about a year ago.

He saw a news story about a company in Maine that began donating wreaths like this to Arlington National Cemetery.

That effort grew into a movement called Wreaths Across America, a single day in December where thousands of sponsors like Webb, and a 4-wheeler club he belongs to (Frank's Jeeps) lay wreaths and veteran's graves.

Webb reads a grave marker at the cemetery, "Edward Lee. Company H of the 25th U.S. Infantry."

"They lay the wreath on each veteran's grave," he continues, "and they wish that veteran Merry Christmas by name."

There are other cemeteries in Oklahoma where wreath layings take place, but none like this.

Fort Reno started out as a lonely outpost in 1874.

Nearly a century and a half later this boot hill seems just as lonely.

Of the 80 veterans graves, most are more than a century old, their families long gone.

Reading another gravestone, Webb says, "Corporal Patrick Lynch, born 1847, killed in action at Turkey Springs, Indian Territory, 1878."

Every year, organizers and sponsors gather on December 15th to remember veterans at a time when people traditionally feel it most necessary to be home or with loved ones.

"It must have been a sad time, a lonely time," he wonders.

Tom Webb, who's own father left a part of himself on a WWII battlefield in Europe, will have a little Christmas on Saturday with all the brothers in arms who serve here still, so many Decembers later.

"You don't want to be alone at Christmas," says Webb. "You don't want to be forgotten, and that's what this is about, to remember them."

The Fort Reno wreath laying ceremony starts at 1PM December 15, 2018 with a short program at the post chapel.

For more information about Wreaths Across America go to https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/

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