Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes, center, addresses area veteransFull size photo

Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes, center, addresses area veterans' organizations at a wreath-laying ceremony at Greenwood Cemetery in Hamilton Dec. 14 to honor fallen veterans as Hamilton Mayor Glen Gilmore (center-left) looks on.

Contact: Julie Willmot
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County announces revised burial policy for veterans' families

TRENTON, N.J. -Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes was joined by Hamilton Mayor Glen Gilmore and area veterans' organizations today in a wreath-laying ceremony at Greenwood Cemetery to honor fallen veterans.

For the second straight year, Mercer County joined hundreds of communities across the country that will lay a wreath for veterans today as part of the "Wreaths Across America" campaign to honor veterans during the holiday season. The campaign was started 16 years ago at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia and has grown each year since.

"We want to make sure our veterans know they are in our hearts and in our minds, especially at this time of year," Hughes said during the brief ceremony in the Old Field of Honor section at the cemetery. "We respect their valiant service and this wreath is symbolic of our appreciation."

Today, more than 5,000 wreaths will be placed on hallowed ground at nearly 300 locations across the country, including national, state, and local cemeteries and monuments in every state. Mercer County and Hamilton joined in this effort for the second consecutive year to help commemorate the sacrifices made by men and women of the military that continues to this day.

"We in Hamilton Township have seen two of our sons die in Iraq, and on behalf of all of Hamilton Township, I'd like to thank the County Executive and our veterans for continuing to make sure their legacies are looked after," Gilmore said.

Gilmore also thanked Mercer County and its Office of Veterans Services for increasing the availability of services and programs for veterans, including re-opening the County Veterans Center on Hamilton Avenue in Hamilton and dedicating a memorial tree and bench there.

Hughes also announced that Mercer County had revised its policy on burials in the veterans' Field of Honor section at Greenwood, which is County-owned. The policy now states that spouses or dependent children of veterans who pre-decease the veteran can be buried first in the Field of Honor. While this practice was not barred in past years, the policy change now explicitly states the dependents of a veteran can be buried if they pass away first.

Hughes said he hoped the revised policy would allow local veterans a measure of comfort and peace of mind about their family's final resting place.