In their Honor: Wreaths Across America Day is Saturday

Published 10:52 am Thursday, December 14, 2023

NATCHEZ — Wreaths Across America Day is this Saturday, Dec. 16, when fir wreaths will be placed upon the graves of veterans across the Miss-Lou and the nation.

Each year, hundreds from the area gather at the Natchez National Cemetery to place wreaths on the graves of our local veterans along with other communities nationwide.

Though rain is likely on Saturday, organizer and Home With Heroes Founder G. Mark LaFrancis said the wreath-laying ceremony is scheduled to still happen.

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A short patriotic ceremony begins at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Natchez National Cemetery and ends at 11:30 a.m. with the placement of the wreaths, first by those who’ve sponsored wreaths for a particular friend or loved one followed by volunteers who place the wreaths on the grave of any veteran, LaFrancis said.

“We have never canceled, even in weather that wasn’t totally friendly,” he said. “This is very important to many people and it’s important to the community and to Home With Heroes. This is one of our biggest fundraisers of the year.”

This year, approximately 2,000 wreaths, a record number, have been delivered for the wreath laying, he said.

“That’s very exciting,” he said. “All will eventually wind up on the grave of a veteran. We have plenty of volunteers coming but we could always use more to come by and help us out.”

Approximately 8,000 are buried at Natchez National Cemetery, and there have never been enough sponsors to cover all the graves.

The wreaths have been sponsored for $17 each with the proceeds benefiting local veterans through the Home With Heroes Foundation.

These funds support the brand-new military museum on Jeff Davis Boulevard that services veterans and the foundation assists veterans with whatever their needs are, whether it’s with “paying bills, making repairs, getting food or just getting by,” LaFrancis said.

The foundation also provides scholarships and veteran-related activities in the community.

The deadline to sponsor wreaths has passed, but LaFrancis said any additional sponsorships would be honored.

“If the rain prohibits a safe wreath day, we might have to cancel. We’ve never had to cancel before,” he said. “If that happens, we will have groups of volunteers put the wreaths out the following week.”

Updates will be posted on the Home With Heroes social media page on Saturday morning.

For more details on Home With Heroes or Wreaths Across America and how to volunteer or become a sponsor, contact LaFrancis at 601-442-0980 or email gmarklafrancis@hotmail.com.