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Volunteers brave elements to conclude veterans’ tradition

Juanita Southers, Wreaths organizer, removes wreaths from the graves at the soldiers plot at Woodland Cemetery

Juanita Southers, Wreaths organizer, removes wreaths from the graves at the soldiers plot at Woodland Cemetery

This time there wasn’t a ceremony, but the volunteers who showed up in 20-degree weather on Saturday at Woodland Cemetery came to make another homage to the county’s veterans.

At noon 20 people gathered at the Soldiers Plot to conclude the month-long Wreaths Across America event where wreaths are placed on the graves of veterans in cemeteries across the country on the second Saturday in December. This was the third time for Lawrence County to participate in the decades-old ceremony, where members of the armed services participate.

On Saturday it was time to take the decorations off.

“I feel our veterans have done such a tremendous job in protecting us and the country,” Herb Brown of Ironton said. “This is my way to honor them. It gives me a better feeling. This is a good way to make a tribute.”

Bringing Wreaths to Lawrence County was the work of Juanita Southers and Linda Dalton, who, for the past three years, have spent countless hours soliciting donations to purchase the live wreaths.

As she waited to begin removing the greenery, Southers reflected on the event and how it has grown.

“The first year I was shocked to death we had so many and it has continued to grow,” she said. “I couldn’t pick one year that is better than another. I am amazed at how people have helped. Everybody. You ask them and they never say no. It’s always yes. The cemetery is beautiful. People are good.”