VALLEY CENTER, Calif. (KGTV) - An unscheduled Veterans Day tribute played out at a cemetery in the North County.
More than a week ago, local florist Jenelle Brinneman learned Valley Center's annual Veterans Day program had been canceled by COVID-19, including a ceremony at Valley Center Cemetery.
She started raising money online and during her flower deliveries. In the end, she raised enough to place roses at the graves of hundreds of veterans.
"We have over 300 veterans that laid to rest here and we just wanted to make sure they are remembered," said Brinneman.
Donors could nominate veterans for rose bouquets. One of those donors was the family of Robert Cronin, an Army veteran who fought in World War II in France and Germany. He passed away in 1992 at the age of 83.
"It means a lot to me to have him honored because he was a special part of our lives," said granddaughter Francesca Pappagallo.
She says Cronin earned numerous medals, including the Legion of Merit for inventing a slide rule tool to increase the accuracy of cannons. Loved ones thought his rank was 'Colonel,' but after he passed away, a different truth emerged.
"They did a lot of research and he was actually a retired one-star General. Makes sense he didn't share it, because he's so humble about his accomplishments," said Pappagallo.
Brinneman has begun a Gofundme campaign for Christmas wreaths to honor fallen veterans.