Local Organizations Partner To Honor Veterans At Chattanooga National Cemetery

Friday, December 15, 2017

On Saturday, more than a dozen of the area volunteer organizations (including the Civil Air Patrol, Young Marines, Navy Sea Cadets, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Brownies, Patriot Riders, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Daughters of the American Revolution, Sons of the American Revolution, employees from U.S. Xpress and Covenant Transport and more) will be participating in the Wreaths Across America (WAA) ceremony and/or involved in distributing wreaths on gravesites at the Chattanooga National Cemetery.  

At the beginning of the ceremony, immediately after the one minute of silence to honor our veterans who have passed on, there will be a fly over of a Civil Air Patrol aircraft.  Maj John Yost of the Rhea County Composite Squadron will be the pilot in command of the Cessna 182. Special guests participating in this year’s ceremony include U. S. Congressman Chuck Fleischmann, and Southeast Region Commander of the Civil Air Patrol, Col Barry Melton. During the ceremony, seven ceremonial wreaths for the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, and POW/MIA will be placed to remember all soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who served, honor their sacrifices, and teach our younger generations about the high cost of our freedoms.

Specially designated wreaths for the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, and POW/MIA will be placed on memorials during a ceremony that will be coordinated simultaneously at over 600 participating locations all across the country.

This year 9,683 wreaths will be placed on the gravesites of veterans laid to rest at Chattanooga National Cemetery. This is more than 1,300 more wreaths than last year’s 8,307. According to WAA Event Coordinator, 2nd Lt. Austen Roberts, CAP, “We are very encouraged by the increase of wreaths donated to honor our veterans. This will allow us to place a wreath on almost one fifth of the approximately 50,000 veteran graves at Chattanooga National Cemetery.” 

Due to the need for volunteers to distribute the increased number of wreaths, Roberts is inviting the public to arrive at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. Mr. Roberts said, “We’ll need lots of strong backs to help with unloading the wreaths from the trucks and stacking wreaths around the cemetery from about 8:30 until 10:30. It’s going to be cold, so please dress warmly, and bring your work gloves, for unloading the boxes from the deck of the trucks. Then, we’ll need more volunteers to help distribute the wreaths immediately after the ceremony, we will continue until the rest of the wreaths are distributed. This would be the ideal time to bring your children to be involved in the placing of the wreaths.”

The Wreaths Across America story began over 20 years ago when the Worcester Wreath Company from Harrington, Maine initiated a tradition of donating and placing wreaths on the headstones of our nation’s fallen heroes at Arlington National Cemetery. Recognition of the service and sacrifice of our veterans, and their families, is especially poignant during the traditional holiday season.

“Wreaths Across America exists today because of the individuals and communities across the country who want to do something to show their gratitude,” said Karen Worcester, executive director of Wreaths Across America. “Placing a wreath is a simple gesture, but people coming together across the country to Remember, Honor and Teach, is what makes us all a part of a larger community of Americans.”

Wreaths Across America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded to continue and expand the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery begun by Maine businessman Morrill Worcester in 1992. The organization’s mission, Remember, Honor, Teach, is carried out in part each year by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies each December at Arlington, as well as hundreds of veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond. For more information, to donate or sign up to volunteer, visit www.WreathsAcrossAmerica.org


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