Wreaths ceremony set for Saturday

Published 9:55 am Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Once more the Soldiers Plot at Woodland Cemetery will be awash with fresh holiday wreaths for the Christmas season when volunteers present the third annual Wreaths Across America on Saturday.

For the past three years Juanita Southers and Linda Dalton have spearheaded the effort to bring the national Wreaths Across America ceremony to Lawrence County.

The display was started in 1992 when Morrill Worcester, owner of a wreath company in Maine, had an excess of wreaths and wanted to decorate some of the graves at Arlington National Cemetery. His display of patriotism went largely unnoticed until 2005 when a photograph of the wreaths at Arlington was circulated via the Internet.

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Since then volunteers in every state have turn one-man’s tribute into a national event.

Southers and Dalton experienced the commemoration a few years ago and were so impressed with it, they brought it to Woodland, with the help of others in the community who either donate their time or money.

This year approximately $7,300 was donated to purchase wreaths that will go on the 1,000 graves of veterans in the Soldiers Plot. They will stay up until Jan. 10 when a second ceremony will take place to remove them.

“I just think it is because everybody is so patriotic,” Southers said. “People realize we have what we have because of these people who have given their lives. Everybody is so willing to be a part of it. Last year it was pouring down the rain and we had almost 200 people.”

Saturday ceremony starts at noon with the 216th Engineer Battalion and Scout Troop 115 from South Point.

“We will have representatives from all seven branches – Army, Navy, Marine, Coast Guard, Air Force, Merchant Marines and POWs,” Southers said.

All volunteers are asked to be at the cemetery by 11:30 a.m.

“We don’t like people coming in after we start the programs,” Southers said.

Also participating will be bugler Tyler Payne from South Point with VFW Post 8850 in Ironton presenting the colors.