Former Kansans make wreaths with a Kansas touch for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Veteran Salute

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — When Kansas veterans place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington, the wreaths have a special Kansas touch to them.

Retired Army Colonel Neil Johnson and his wife Norma are from Colby. Years ago they relocated to Maryland and bought a home with grapevines.

They’ve since turned the vineyard and winemaking into a hobby, and now they have about 60 vines.

For quite a few years, they’ve trimmed those vines to supply wreaths for the Kansas Honor Flight veterans to place at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

This year the Johnsons made sure the Kansas veterans had 13 to place.

“It means so much and it is such an honor to get to do it,” Neil said. “I think that is the way we view it, and it is a payback, you know. We’ve been very fortunate, and we think people should pay back, and this is one of the places we are paying back. It’s a good, good feeling.”

There is a Kansas sunflower at the top of every wreath Norma makes, in addition to the patriotic red, white and blue flowers.

Organizers say they have to tell the Tomb guards, who help place the wreath, to ensure the sunflower is always on top.

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