Wreath sponsorships needed for fallen veterans
Volunteers have laid wreaths at the Chattanooga National Cemetery for almost 15 years, and this year they hope each fallen veteran will have their own.
This Saturday is National Wreath Day when wreaths are laid out at the national cemeteries across the country. Right now, the Chattanooga National Cemetery is in great need of sponsored wreaths.
When you take a step onto historical cemetery, there are grave markers as far as your eyes can see. However, around the holidays, only some have a wreath.
"All of the gravestones are not covers, so you have to make a tough decision, which gravestones do you cover and which ones do you not cover?" Mickey McCamish said.
McCamish is on the local board with the cemetery. He said there are about 46,000 gravestones, but only about 20 percent of them get a holiday wreath.
Since 2005, volunteers have collected donations with Wreaths Across American, but they call the local initiative Wreaths Across Chattanooga.
In recent years, about 10,000 wreaths have been placed on gravestones, starting with the oldest.
"It's chance to honor those that did pay the ultimate sacrifice," he said.
This year, local volunteers made a goal to make sure no fallen veteran is left out. Over the summer they began collecting wreath sponsorships for just $10, and if every marker is sponsored it would set a record for the cemetery.
"We would be the second largest cemetery to cover each and every gravestone, with Arlington National being at 252,000," McCamish explained.
This Saturday, volunteers will help unload trucks of wreaths and lay them on each gravestone. Organizers hope the event helps others remember the fallen, honor those who serve and teach children the value of freedom.
"It makes you feel so good, it's just a way to celebrate the freedom and really those that produced the freedom and the way to do that is by placing a wreath on each of these gravestones," McCamish said.
If they don't meet their goal this time around, they say they'll start fundraising for next year a lot sooner.
Wreaths Across Chattanooga needs volunteers. Contact Gina Ortiz at (423) 394-0104 to sign up to unload the truck and place wreaths on Saturday.
You can also still sponsor a veteran. Organizers ask that you mail or drop off a check to "Wreaths Across Chattanooga" to 180 Hamm Road, Chattanooga, TN 37405 if you want to contribute for this year's goal. Otherwise, you can donate online on the Wreaths Across America website.