On Saturday, 2,945 of the veterans buried at Mountain Home had been sponsored and local Wreaths Across America Coordinator David Carter was waiting for the pre-holidays rush that last year provided 7,200 of the $15 handmade wreaths placed at the cemetery.
Carter hopes to have all sponsorships in hand by late November and is sharing information on how everyone can participate in the project’s mission, “Remember our fallen U.S. veterans. Honor those who serve. And teach our children the value of freedom.”
Wreath sponsorships can be placed online at wreathsacrossamerica.org/tnmhnm — Tri-Cities Military Affairs Council, Rolling Thunder Chapter 4, or the Kingsport Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol at 423-276-8368, 423-213-6805 or 423-741-9934.
The wreaths are shipped fresh from Maine to more than 1,600 National Cemeteries across the country a few days ahead of National Wreaths Across America Day, which will be held on Saturday, Dec. 14.
Carter said about 200 local volunteers took part in the wreath placement last year at Mountain Home.
“We don’t know how the weather will impact that number. If it’s windy and raining, it could be a long day for just a handful of us, but we will get it done,” he said.
“If you think about WWII soldiers in the trenches at the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium, a little rain and wind in East Tennessee is nothing,” Carter said.
The placement ceremony will begin at noon with an invocation, a presentation of the colors, a gun volley and the playing of taps. The volunteers, who traditionally include a large contingent of local Boy Scouts and National Guard members, will then spread out across the cemetery to place the wreaths.
At each grave, they place the wreath, step back, salute. read the veteran’s name on the stone out loud and say “Thank you for your sacrifice.”
“That way they are not forgotten,” Carter said.
While local veterans groups and project supporters have been working for several years to raise enough sponsorships to place wreaths on the graves of every veteran at Mountain Home, the goal would require 9,000 more sponsorships above last year’s 7,200.
In order to honor every veteran in the cemetery, graves receiving the wreaths alternate from year to year. Last year, wreaths were placed at almost all the upright stones at Mountain Home and this year the hope is to be able to include all of the cemetery’s 9,000 flat stones and more.
“The numbers change from year to year but the reason for doing this does not,” Carter said.
More information about the project may be obtained by contacting Carter at [email protected] or 423-349-4622, or Allen Jackson at [email protected] or 423-753-4165.