Wreaths Across America Location Leader Major Marty Nix, Civil Air Patrol, on Friday made the following remarks at the Chattanooga National Cemetery:
"Although the annual placing of wreaths on our veteran’s headstones started in Arlington about 25 years ago, the initiative to expand the effort to all the national cemeteries started in 2006. Here in Chattanooga, this will be our 13th year of holding the Wreaths Across America ceremony and placing wreaths. In our early years, our community was able to raise funds to sponsor a couple hundred wreaths per year and it has grown to a few thousand wreaths per year. While we have been rotating the laying of wreaths among various sections of the cemetery, we have not yet been able to decorate the grave of every veteran here, not even once.
"But starting in January of this year, members of our local Civil Air Patrol squadron started on a quest to find a way to fulfill the vision of honoring every veteran interred here in Chattanooga, this year, and every year.
"It’s been with the help of a couple of dozen volunteer organizations that we have gotten this far, but we recognize that it will take a lot more help to reach this worthy goal. Over the last couple of months, we have been working with Captain Mickey McCamish and several of his fellow associates from the Chattanooga Area Veterans Council member organizations. Together, we have set an ambitious goal; to raise the necessary $430,000 needed this year to honor every one of these 43,000 veterans resting here.
"Chattanooga is proud of our U.S. Military members, from those that served during the Revolutionary War, all the way to modern day conflicts. We need to honor the ultimate sacrifice that many of our community have made on behalf of America, so we can enjoy the freedoms afforded to the citizens of this great country.
"This is very personal to me, as it is to thousands of family members like me. My father served in the U.S. Navy, and he is buried here, as well as four of my uncles who served their nation. It's love and honor that compels me to continue to remember their sacrifice they made on our behalf. I know there are thousands of others that share what I feel. Every holiday season, we remember the veterans that aren’t able to be with us anymore, and sponsoring a wreath or placing a wreath on one of these 43,000 headstones, seems to me to be the least we can do to remember their service and honor their lives.
"I hope you all, as citizens of Chattanooga, Hamilton County, and the Tri-State area, will join me in this worthy effort. We need donations to sponsor Wreaths Across Chattanooga. Donations as small as $10 can sponsor a wreath. We will post the results as we make progress towards the financial goal at our website: www.ChattanoogaWAA.com.
"We will keep the community informed by announcing progress and developments on our Wreaths Across Chattanooga page on Facebook.
"We hope, no – we need hundreds of people to come out to the brief ceremony we will have here at noon on Dec. 15 and we hope you will stay and help us distribute 43,000 wreaths immediately after the ceremony.
"We appreciate the support that our community leaders have shown and are continuing to show for this cause. We need the continued support of our local volunteer organizations who have faithfully supported Wreaths Across Chattanooga for a dozen years and counting. If you are a member of a volunteer organization, any group of citizens, or an employer please contact us and we’ll help you get registered to gather support for the mission.
"Even if you are not a member of one of the organizations, even if you can’t make a corporate donation, or even sponsor a wreath, please come out and help us lay wreaths on December 15th. Bring your children so they can learn, in a tangible way, how we honor and treasure the sacrifice of our military members.
"Finally, we appreciate the support that has been provided by the members of the media. The television stations that have covered past events, the radio stations that have welcomed us for announcement and interviews, and the print and electronic media that have helped us communicate the need and the news, we say thank you! We desperately need your continued help and support.
"The mission of Wreaths Across America is to Remember the fallen, Honor those who serve, and their families, and Teach the children the value of freedom. On behalf of Civil Air Patrol, the dozens of veteran and volunteer organizations, the members of our organizing committee and every family represented with a headstone, I thank you in advance for your time, your efforts, and your generosity."
Following Major Nix's remarks, Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger and Chattanooga City Councilman Anthony Byrd, each read proclamations declaring Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018 as "Wreaths Across Chattanooga Day."
The event was attended by members of each of the branches of military service, several veteran groups and Wreaths Across Chattanooga committee members. Also in attendance were Civil Air Patrol leaders; Captain. Deming Gray, TN Group II Commander, Colonel Dent Young, Tennessee Wing Commander, and Colonel Barry Melton, Southeast Region Commander.
For more information, please visit www.ChattanoogaWAA.com or Facebook @WreathsAcrossChattanooga