Veterans remembered during holiday season

Saturday was an emotional day in Boulder City as people came from all over the valley to remember veterans through Wreaths Across America.

The national program remembers and honors veterans by having volunteers place a wreath on their graves, speak the person’s name and thank him or her for their service.

“My best friend’s dad is buried here,” said U.S. Army veteran Tammy Biancolin of Henderson. “We want to make sure he gets one (a wreath).”

Biancolin said that her friend lives out of the country and could not be there to honor his father with a wreath, so she and her daughters and several of their friends found his grave and placed one there.

Her friend’s father served in the U.S. Air Force and fought in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He died in 2015.

On Saturday, some people came alone to participate, and others came with family and friends.

Tara Sweeney and her wife, Jennifer Bishop, of Henderson, heard about Wreaths Across America and decided to come with some friends. Both Sweeney and Bishop served in the U.S. Air Force.

“I just thought it was an awesome and amazing thing to do,” Sweeney said about the event.

“I love cemeteries because it’s a piece of history that is not forgotten,” Bishop said. “It’s a wonderful reminder of those who went ahead of us.”

“This is definitely my small way of giving back to people who help our country,” said Amanda Cotalano, who was participating in her second Wreaths Across America.

At this year’s ceremony, volunteers laid more than 4,000 wreaths on the graves of veterans at the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City.

Prior to placing the wreaths, there was a program in the cemetery’s chapel. The keynote speaker was Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak.

“As a nation, we have not done enough to support them (veterans). … The United States owes our veterans a great gratitude for their dedication and support,” he said.

Sisolak also described the day as one of national unity, as people all over the country were celebrating, with simultaneous ceremonies at 208 cemeteries across the nation.

The ceremony included placing wreaths for each branch of the military, the Merchant Marine, prisoners of war and those missing in action. In addition to remembering those veterans, the placement symbolized the passing of the torch to the younger generation through participation by military cadets, active service members and retired service members.

According to cemetery superintendent Steve Naylor, 258 more wreaths were placed Saturday than in 2016, including 459 given to Boulder City by Wreaths Across America in St. George, Utah.

Naylor also said the organization was providing 2,800 more wreaths that would arrive the week of Dec. 18.

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.