Memorial wreaths on sale for veterans

Published 12:04 am Tuesday, October 25, 2011

NATCHEZ — U.S. Air Force veteran Oscar Seyfarth has laid a wreath on his daughter’s grave at the Natchez National Cemetery every second Saturday in December in the Wreaths Across America ceremony for the past five years.

Seyfarth said his youngest son, Chance, places the wreath on the grave of his daughter, Tami Seyfarth McDonald, to honor the ultimate sacrifice she gave for her country.

“It’s hard to put into words,” he said. “To say what it means to lay a wreath there is very emotional.”

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McDonald was a Navy Gulf War veteran. She died in 2002 from service-related injuries.

“No parent should ever have to bury their child,” Seyfarth said. “When you lay that wreath there, you’re just so proud of their service. But there’s also all the emotions and memories of losing your child.”

Natchez residents have a chance to show the same patriotism and appreciation this holiday season for fallen soldiers in the national cemetery by purchasing a wreath for Wreaths Across America.

Seyfarth is the coordinator of the Wreaths Across America program at the national cemetery. The nonprofit organization coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies at national cemeteries across the nation.

The wreaths are made in Maine and shipped all across the country by truck companies and drivers that volunteer their services.

Seyfarth said it is important to remember the sacrifice veterans made for America.

“It’s important to remember those veterans that have paid the ultimate price and to honor and pay tribute to their families who are without them at the holidays and to teach our children that freedom is not free,” he said.

The Natchez High School R.O.T.C. is participating in the Wreaths Across America program at the national cemetery for the second year in a row.

R.O.T.C. instructor Col. John Curran said the program shows cadets an appreciation for veterans and makes them more aware of local veterans.

Natchez High School juniors and ROTC members Lt. Col. DeQwon Griffin and First Lt. Keywand Battiste said they are proud to be a part of Wreaths Across America.

Griffin said he plans on joining the Air Force when he graduates, and veterans have always been a role model for him.

“It makes me feel very important to be a part of this,” he said. “If I could say anything to the veterans, I would just thank them for saving our country and for being a role model for me.”

Battiste grew up in a military family. He said he is following in the footsteps of those that helped defend our country.

“It’s like a dream for me to be in the Air Force or the Army,” he said.

Wreaths are $15 and can be purchased online at or by calling Seyfarth at 601-807-1576 or Peter Bland at 601-442-0040. Payments can be made with cash or checks. The deadline for purchasing a wreath locally is Nov. 23 and Nov. 24 for online purchases.

Wreaths purchased online cannot be designated for a specific grave. However, Seyfarth said wreaths purchased through him or Bland can be designated for a specific grave.

This year’s ceremony will be at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10. Seyfarth said even though the weather may not be ideal, he encourages community members to attend the ceremony.

“When these guys were on the battlefield, they didn’t get a choice of the weather they were going to fight in,” he said.

There were 360 wreaths laid at the national cemetery last year. Seyfarth said he would like to see an increase every year.

“The ultimate goal is to have a wreath on each and every grave.”

Natchez High School R.O.T.C. cadets will be participating in the ceremony as color guard.

Battiste said being among the veterans at the ceremony is a very good feeling for him.

“Wow, it’s unexplainable,” he said. “It’s the least I could do to show my respect to them and show I’m thankful for what they did for our country.