‘It poured rain the entire time, but I’d do it again.’

December 18, 2018

Wendy Parker


Foul weather didn’t deter wreath-laying efforts for retired Air Force Master Sgt. George Parker Jr.

“My two sons and I volunteered to lay wreaths at the Dayton National Cemetery today as part of the Wreaths Across America program. Very humbling experience. It poured rain the entire time, but I’d do it again,” he said.

Master Sgt. Parker is my father-in-law. And it’s weird for me to call him anything but “Pa” or “Old Man.” He served our country in uniform for 20 years, retired, and returned to civil service for another 20 years. His military service ended before I meandered into the family, but his pride and dedication to our country have always been evident.

Master Sgt. George Parker Jr.
Master Sgt. George Parker Jr., USAF-retired, prepares to lay wreaths on graves at the Dayton National Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio, as part of Wreaths Across America on Saturday, Dec. 15. Photo credit: George Parker III

He’s retired (again) and volunteered for the Wreaths Across America effort for the first time this season. The weather was miserable, but the sentiment and respect were not dampened in the least. Being able to share the experience with his sons was an added bonus.

Dating back as far as the Revolutionary War, Dayton National Cemetery contains markers for veterans from every major conflict in which the United States has been involved. Notable interments include Civil War veteran Joshua Dunbar, father of poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar.

He shares a final resting place of honor with the great-grandson of Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, James Hobbs. Referred to later in life as “Comanche Jim,” Hobbs was a veteran of both the Mexican and Civil War. He spent many years with the Comanche tribe and roamed the unexplored West with Kit Carson. The state of Arizona has numerous passes, peaks and lakes named for him.

This year’s Wreaths Across America effort at Dayton National Cemetery adorned the graves of 2,800 United States veterans. Started in 1992 when a trailer load of wreaths were delivered to Arlington National Cemetery to adorn the graves of fallen soldiers, the event is now an annual occurrence with more than 1,200 participating locations.