For the first time, Otterbein Cemetery will participate in a Wreaths Across America ceremony to honor the hundreds of veterans buried at the cemetery.

The Westerville Honor Flight Committee is sponsoring the event on Saturday, Dec. 15, which also will serve as a fundraiser for an Honor Flight trip that will be taken in September 2019, said Tammy Pusateri, a member of the committee.

Westerville's Honor Flight works closely with Honor Flight Columbus, part of the Honor Flight Network, a nonprofit that transports senior veterans to Washington, D.C., to see the memorials created in honor of their service.

Ronald Pusateri, Tammy's husband and another member of Westerville's committee, said Honor Flight Columbus is the oldest and most active in the country.

"Everyone is on board with this," Tammy Pusateri said of the Dec. 15 event.

Sharon Lytle, with the city service department, said about 500 veterans are buried in the cemetery.

The ceremony will take place at 11:30 a.m. at the cemetery, 175 S. Knox St.

Dian Claire, a family member of Oscar Dingus Banks Jr., a local veteran who was killed in action during the Vietnam War, will lay the first wreath, according to program materials. Wreaths will then be laid by all branches of service.

"We've had a lot of community support with the purchasing of the wreaths," Pusateri said.

Individuals could purchase wreaths for $15 through Dec. 3, with $5 of that to be donated to Honor Flight Columbus.

Wreaths Across America is a nonprofit that was started in 1992 by Maine-based businessman, Morrill Worcester to expand the wreath ceremony held at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

The ceremony is open to the public. Parking is available on local streets and at City Hall, 21 S. State St.

A free lunch will follow the ceremony at the Westerville Senior Center, 301 W. Main St.

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