Wreaths Across America is on a mission to see that every grave in the Mountain Home National Cemetery has a Christmas wreath this year. With 16,000 veterans buried at the site, David Carter, a representative of Wreaths Across America and the Tri-Cities Military Affairs Council, knows that is a tall task.

“Last year, I was asked by a reporter why we do this,” Carter said. ”Part of the answer is that, for many families, there is an empty chair at the table —especially during the holidays. Often, that chair will remain empty, never to be occupied again.”

In December 2017, Wreaths Across America placed more than 1.5 million wreaths at 1,400 locations in the United States and military cemeteries abroad. Local volunteers placed more than 7,800 wreaths at Mountain Home.

This year’s Wreaths Across America placement ceremony will be held at noon on Dec. 15 at the committal shelter of Mountain Home National Cemetery.

A number of local organizations representing veterans are selling wreaths for the ceremony. Each wreath costs $15 each, and the deadline to purchase a wreath is Nov. 28.

Make checks payable to Wreaths Across America, and mail them to P.O. Box 220, Mountain Home, TN 37684.

To purchase a wreath for a particular veteran, contact Carter at 349-4622 or dcart@charter.net; Bob Rambo, Rolling Thunder Chapter 4 Tennessee, at 276-8368; and Scott Foster, Civil Air Patrol, at 741-9934.

Carter said the story of Wreaths Across America began when a 12-year-old paperboy, Morrill Worcester, was impressed by a trip to Arlington National Cemetery. Worcester later became a successful businessman, and when he found himself with a surplus of holiday wreaths in 1992, he decided to donate 5,000 wreaths to Arlington cemetery. That donation soon grew into an annual event.

When a photo of his Christmas wreaths covered in snow at the Arlington cemetery went viral on the internet in 2006, the Worcester Wreath Co. expanded the program nationwide. The nonprofit Wreaths Across America Foundation was formed the next year.