Wreaths Across America effort starts early

Published 11:54 pm Monday, September 4, 2017


NATCHEZ — While the event is not until December, J.R. Wiley hopes to get Wreaths Across America started earlier in hopes of decorating more former soldiers’ tombstones.

Event coordinator Wiley said the Natchez National Cemetery has approximately 8,000 gravesites. Wiley said last year the numbers of wreaths placed for the holiday seaons were down. Where they typically cover 1,500 of the gravesites, last year only approximately 1,000 were covered, he said.

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“For those who don’t know about Wreaths Across America, we provide the opportunity for communities to place freshly cut Christmas wreaths on the graves of veterans in the Natchez and other local cemeteries,” Wiley said. “A variety of groups in and around the Miss-Lou get together to place wreaths on the headstones of veterans and in some cases, spouses.”

Wiley said individuals who purchase wreaths do not have to have them placed at the Natchez National Cemetery. Wiley said people can pick them up after the ceremony in December.

Wiley said at the national cemetery, you can also identify the gravesite you want your wreath to go on.

“If your loved one is at the national cemetery, we will ensure your wreath gets placed on that gravesite,” Wiley said. “If your loved one is in another cemetery, you can take it to that one.”

Wiley said if people who do not have a particular veteran to honor, they could still contribute. Wiley said volunteers typically start placing the wreaths at the front of the cemetery and work their way back. This year, however, he said they might consider starting in the rear so gravesites that do not typical receive wreaths might.

Wiley said wreaths will cost $15. The event will be on Dec. 16.

You can donate online at www.wreathsacrossamerica.org. On the website, click on donate to a local fundraising group. You can search by city, ZIP code or the cemetery’s code: msnncn.

Wiley said he also plans to set up an account at a local bank at a later date to receive donations. For more information, Wiley can be reached at 407-230-2724.