WHEN WE WERE young, I remember my father always telling us how to spell words correctly. As a newspaperman, this was important to him.

Joan Stylianos' Heart of Nashua column sig

The word “cemetery” was one that was often misspelled. He used to emphasize to us that there was no “a” in the spelling of cemetery. I never forgot that one.

Today, the word cemetery has come to represent something much more significant, especially as one gets older and says goodbye to more and more people.

Here in my city, we have numerous cemeteries, including Edgewood (Amherst Street), St. Francis Xavier (Pinehill Avenue), Evergreen (Lawndale Avenue), St. Louis (W. Hollis Street), Gilson (Gilson Road/Tanglewood Drive), St. Stanislaus (Pine Hill Road) and Old Dunstable.

Scattered across rows of headstones at Woodlawn Cemetery on Kinsley Street, Christmas wreaths with pretty bows dangle silently in the chilly December breeze.

I have often wondered what the wreath could symbolize, and I recently found an answer. And it has to do with eternity.

A wreath’s circular form has no beginning and no end. From a Christian point of view, the wreath has long represented a never-ending circle of life. I also read that the evergreen branches stand for continuous growth and life.

Whether you’re religious or not, the concept is a good one for every person, and that’s probably why volunteers place wreaths at each veteran’s headstone at Arlington National Cemetery every mid-December.

In 2018, 253,000 evergreen wreaths with bright red ribbons were laid at the famous cemetery to pay respect, honor and to remember each fallen hero.

As Wayne Hanson, board chair for Wreaths Across America said: “I say there’s a story behind every stone.”

And Mr. Hanson is right and not just for veterans at the Arlington National Cemetery, but for every person laid to rest.

A close friend once told me, “You know, they’re not in there.” She revealed to me that she avoided going to the cemetery and found it to be a morbid place.

What she was trying to tell me was that our departed had spiritually gone on to another journey, and I like to believe that. But I also visit the cemetery to reflect, connect with my past and to feel inner peace and closure.

To me, we are all links in a chain.

Ms. Stylianos is a Nashua native. Her column is published weekly. She can be reached at jtania512@gmail.com.