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Group hopes to put wreath on every grave at Mountain Home

Becky Campbell • Updated Dec 3, 2017 at 6:20 PM

Mountain Home National Cemetery has reached 34 percent toward its goal of placing 14,500 wreaths on veterans graves over the upcoming holiday season, but the push is on to push that number higher.

Wreaths Across America is a nonprofit organization with the sole goal of recognizing and adorning military veterans graves for Christmas. Fifteen groups in the region are actively seeking donations to sponsor a wreath.

As of Sunday morning, Wreaths Across America had sold 4,978 wreaths for Mountain Home and over 100 volunteers — including 105 individuals and six group or organizations — were signed up to participate in laying the wreaths Dec. 16.

The number of wreaths sold for placement has already surpassed last year’s 4,100 sold, but organizers hope to see the nearly 5,000 committed to the cemetery this year to triple.

“I hope to honor every veteran in there,” Dave Carter, the local Wreaths Across America liasion, said earlier this year.

The annual event isn’t a grave “decoration” Karen Worcester, executive director for the national WAA, said on the organization’s website.

“We are not here to decorate graves. We’re here to remember not their deaths, but their lives,” she said.

Last year, a local civil air patrol group led part of the wreath-laying program by organizing a roll call of each veteran buried at Mountain Home. The roll call began at 6 a.m. and lasted into the early evening on the day before wreaths were laid.

Cemetery Director Jeny Walker said the roll call will take place every five years due to the enormity of the undertaking.

Carter is concentrating his efforts on making sure everyone who wants to donate or place a wreath has that opportunity.

“We want to get the word out,” he said, allowing everyone who wants to donate, to purchase a wreath for a specific grave or volunteer for the wreath-placing event.

Walker said parking for the event will be outside the cemetery gates. If anyone needs assistance getting from the parking area to the cemetery, staff will be able to provide that, she said.

Another thing to remember is that under no circumstances should anyone sit on headstones or interact in a disrespectful manner.

For more information about the event, to donate to Wreaths Across America or to a specific organization selling wreaths, go to www.wreathsaacrossamerica.org, scroll to the bottom of the page and search cemetery locations to find Mountain Home’s page.

Organizations involved in collecting donations for wreaths include:

• Tri-Cities Military Affairs Council, David Carter, dcart@charter.net, 423-349-4622.

• Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 39.

• AT&T Veterans Tennessee Chapter.

• Kingsport Composite Squadron CAP SER-TN, Cory Siffring, csiffring5421@gmail.com.

• Patriot Guard Riders of Tri-Cities.

• Second Tour Campaign.

• Rolling Thunder Chapter 4 TN, Bob Rambo, 423-276-8368.

• State of Franklin Chapter SAR.

• WM Associates 39, Allen Castle 423-329-5222.

• Watauga Chapter, Tennessee Sons of the American Revolution, Ronnie Lail wataugatnssar@gmail.com 423-914-8677.

• Sons of the American Revolution, Kings Mountain Chapter, Jeff Howard, howardjs@mail.etsu.edu.

• Three Percent Republic.

• Daughters of the American Revolution, John Sevier/Sarah Hawkins Chapter:

• Bartleby.

• Boone Composite Squadron, Civil Air Patrol.

• Humana, MidSouth.

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