By Charlotte Richter/Staff Writer
Friends, family and volunteers placed wreaths of remembrance on the graves of
veterans and said the names of the fallen to honor those veterans during the 11th annual Wreaths Across America Wreath Day Dec. 18 at the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery.
In the crowd of volunteers, siblings Stacey Hagemeister and Scott Hagemeister joined
the tradition with their father in mind. Medal of Honor recipient retired Lt. Col. Charles Hagemeister was an avid participant in Wreaths Across America. According to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, during his service in the Vietnam War, Hagemeister sought medical attention and evacuated wounded members of his platoon
through enemy fire when they were surrounded and attacked during a combat operation in the Binh Dinh Province.
Hagemeister died May 19, 2021, at the age of 74; he is buried at the Leavenworth National Cemetery.
“This was something that was always very important to him, to honor other veterans
and support the local community and a big part of what he’s always been involved in education, teaching values and morals to the next generation. That’s always been a part of what he’s done,” Stacey Hagemeister said.
It was the first time either sibling had participated in Wreaths Across America. Stacey
flew in from Nashville, Tenn., and Scott drove from near Fort Riley, Kan., to lay wreaths at FLNC.
“I think it was a way for us to remember him; it’s big shoes to fill,” Scott Hagemeister
said. “It’s been Dad’s thing — he’d been involved in (WAA) quite a bit, and it’s hard to
Stacey said her father was involved in the set up of the event. passing out the wreaths
and collection of wreaths following the main event.
“He was out there picking up (the wreaths). There are a lot of people that come out for the ‘enjoyable’ part, but the part where they have to collect, he did a lot of that, too,” Stacey said.
She said donating to Wreaths Across America was one of his memorials, and their family
members plan to continue contributing to the organization.
Scott anticipates attending future events.
“For us, it may not be here all the time, but there are places close to (where we live) and
where anyone lives, and it’s just trying to get people to be more involved,” he said. “It doesn’t take a whole lot of time to come out here.”
Diana Pitts, location coordinator for Wreaths Across America and FLNC, said an
estimated 4,700 wreaths were placed during this year’s event, and more than 50 organizations participated. Wreaths covered sections M and N of the cemetery, with additional wreaths set aside for individual honors.
“When I hear what Chuck did on the battlefield, and how he did not leave his fellow sol diers…that’s what I see his kids doing right now,” Pitts said. “It was really important to him to make sure they were covered, and they’re doing that.”
Wreaths Across America events are open to the pubic. For more information visitwreathsacrossamerica.org/pages/150681/overview/.