MONTEVALLO, Ala. (WIAT) — Nearly three hundred people showed up to the Alabama National Cemetery Saturday to lay 3,000 wreaths on the graves of soldiers as a part of Wreaths Across America.
This is the sixth year the Alabama National Cemetery is participating in the event which began nationally in 2006. The idea for Wreaths Across America is based on a 1992 tribute by a wreath company in Maine who donated their surplus wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery.
A ceremony to honor all branches of the military preceded the wreath laying on the headstones. Retired Lieutenant General Jim Link of the U.S. Army was the guest speaker.
“The wreaths we place on graves today are symbols of our respect for service, their sacrifice to our nation,” Link said. “It is the who stood at the gate and guarded the halls of freedom.”
After the ceremony, family members of those buried at Alabama National Cemetery were given the chance to lay wreaths on their loved ones graves before all present helped to decorate every headstone.
“So many people could have been out shopping but they chose to come out and recognize the over 3,200 soldiers laid to rest here at our national cemetery,” Kenneth Paschal, a retired 21-year Army veteran, said.
Along with family members and veterans, many Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts volunteered their time to place wreaths on graves. The importance of honoring veterans was not lost on them.
“The soldiers gave us our freedom and our rights to have our own rules,” Carter Walchli said.
“They sacrificed their lives,” Emma Walchli added.
The wreaths for Wreaths Across America are all donated thanks to fundraising efforts. Over $45,000 was raised for the wreaths used in Montevallo Saturday.
Copyright 2014 WIAT 42 News