Local vet wants to bring winter warmth to veterans’ graves 

  • Don Larsen poses with the Wreaths Across Dunbarton donation box earlier this week. Caitlin Andrews / Monitor staff

  • The Wreaths Across Dunbarton donation box can be found in the town offices. Caitlin Andrews / Monitor staff

  • The Wreaths Across Dunbarton donation box can be found in the town offices. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Wednesday, August 02, 2017

A Dunbarton veteran has
been working throughout the year to bring a little warmth to the graves of fallen veterans in town this winter.

Don Larsen, who served in the Vietnam War from 1965-66, has been collecting donations for a Wreaths Across Dunbarton effort since February. The $1,800 Larsen said the project needs to run per year has already been raised, but he said he hopes to keep the momentum going to continue the project for years to come.

“The main thing is to make people more aware of our veterans, because we have a lot here in such a small town,” Larsen said in a recent interview. “Rather than have a bleak cemetery in the winter, we can brighten it up and have people take notice of the people we’re honoring, which is the veterans.”

There are 174 veterans buried in the town’s three public cemeteries, according to Larsen, and some graves date back to the Revolutionary War.

The wreaths project is new to Dunbarton, but not to the rest of the country – Wreaths Across America is a national nonprofit organization that lays wreaths on veterans’ graves across the country on the third Saturday in December. According to Larsen, the national Wreaths project takes place in all 50 states, but this is the first time the project will happen in Dunbarton.

Larsen said he was inspired to bring Wreaths to Dunbarton after seeing his godson, who is stationed with the Civil Air Patrol in Colorado, participate in the effort last winter. “I thought, ‘This is something that is doable, and easy for other people to get involved in,’ ” he said.

In addition to the several private donations Larsen said he has received for the project, three local businesses, Capital Well, the Grappone Auto Group and Dunbarton Dental Care have pledged their financial support to the project for the next five years. Those three businesses make up around 44 percent of the costs needed to fund the project, Larsen said.

But while the Wreaths project for this year is already set, Larsen said he wants to keep the fundraising efforts coming so there is no lag. Donations can be dropped off at the town offices via a bright red box located across from the town clerk’s office or mailed to the town office.

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, candrews@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @ActualCAndrews.)