Local veterans participating in Wreaths Across America

Published 11:40 am Wednesday, December 10, 2014

In honor of all service members and their families, the 2014 Wreaths Across America Day ceremony is scheduled locally for 11 a.m. Saturday at Ponemah and Bogalusa cemeteries.

The timing of the ceremonies is simultaneous with the ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., on the outskirts of Washington, D.C.

In 2014, it is projected more than 400,000 wreaths will be placed nationwide by more than 150,000 volunteers as part of the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor and teach.

Mike Henley, vice commander of American Legion Magic City Post No. 24 of Bogalusa, is coordinating Bogalusa’s Wreaths Across America wreath-laying ceremony at the Veterans Plot at Ponemah Cemetery.

“We started participating in this about three years ago, and we will continue doing this,” Henley said. “The wreath laying ceremony is significant because it is done for the purpose of remembering those who gave their lives for our freedoms and the sacrifices their families made. Another goal of Wreaths Across America is to teach our children that freedom is not free.”

The Rev. Robert Belknap will be the master of ceremonies at Ponemah Cemetery.

Retired Lt. Col. Roosevelt Peters will be the guest speaker for the Wreaths Across America event at Bogalusa Cemetery. He is scheduled to speak to the JROTC cadets at Bogalusa High School on Friday.

“At the American Legion ceremony at Ponemah Cemetery, there will be seven ceremonial wreaths that will be placed to remember all soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who served and honor their service and teach the younger generation about the high cost of our freedoms,” Henley said. “Wreaths representing the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Merchant Marines, Coast Guard and POWs/MIAs will be placed in the front of memorials on the back wall of the cemetery.”

“American Legion Post No. 24 invites not only families of deceased veterans but anyone would like to honor and remember our fallen heroes to attend the ceremony and place a wreath or flowers on their graves,” Henley said.

Emma Dixon is the regional coordinator for Wreaths Across America.

Peters is a native of Bogalusa. He is a 1960 graduate of Central Memorial High School, where he served as president of his senior class. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from Southern University in 1964 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He received a masters degree in counseling and guidance from West Virginia College of Graduate Studies in 1977 and a Master of Education degree in administration and supervision from Southern University in May 1993. He attended numerous military schools during his 24 years as a military officer.

Peters served as a professor of military science at Southern University from 1984 until 1988. Prior to his selection as commander of the Jaguar Battalion, he held a variety of command and staff positions both overseas and in the United States to include three commands; two ROTC tours; two tours of Vietnam; and one tour to Hawaii. His service awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Purple Heart, four Bronze Stars with Valor Device, and five Army Commendation Medals, one with Valor Device. He was selected as one of the Outstanding Young Men in America in 1973 for his works with the youth in the Lawton-Fort Sill community.

He currently is principal at the Alternative Learning Center for the Baker, La., School District. He was selected Outstanding Mathematics Teacher of the Year for Baker Middle School 1990-1994; East Baton Rouge Parish 1994; State of Louisiana 1994-95; and the National Teacher of the Year for the Walt Disney Company presents the Outstanding American Teacher Awards, Middle School Category 1994-95. He was

a recipient of the State Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching 1994-95; and selected Educator of the Year in Phi Delta Kappa International Association for Educators and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.

His professional organizations include Southern University Alumni Federation of Commissioned Officers; life member of the Southern University Alumni Federation, former Federation Parliamentarian; and Pi Mu Epsilon Mathematics Honor Society.

Peters is an active member of Greater Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, where he serves as president of the brotherhood. He is married to Janifer B. Peters, and they have two children, Kendra Peters-Ross and Kristopher.

Wreaths will be placed in all 50 states and 24 national cemeteries on foreign soil.