Historical Society, Legion And Auxiliary Will Place Wreaths On Veterans’ Graves Saturday

Christmas wreaths adorn graves at the Chattanooga National Cemetery in 2019. Last year, 14,000 wreaths were sponsored. This year, that number is expected to be around 9,000.

     Members of the Dade County Historical Society, American Legion Post 106 and American Legion Post 106 Auxiliary will lay wreaths on Dade County veteran’s graves at the Chattanooga National Cemetery on Saturday, Dec. 19, as a part of the annual Wreaths Across America program.
     This is the second year that wreaths will be placed on local veteran’s graves.
     Historical Society member Gail Hedden is the coordinator of the event. “Last year we identified approximately 200 veterans and the response was very good. We were able to collect enough money to cover all of the Dade County veteran’s graves. This year we have identified an additional 94, so there are now 294 graves,” Hedden said. This number includes veterans from northeast Alabama.
     Hedden noted that the response this year has been “tremendous,” and that they received enough money to cover not only those 294 graves, but also an additional amount of money for 70 graves for people who are not from Dade County.
     According to Hedden, last year 14,000 graves had a wreath at the Chattanooga National Cemetery. This year, 9,000 wreaths are anticipated, due to not being able to fundraise as much because of COVID-19.
     “A few months ago, it was anticipated that we weren’t even going to have that many, so the 9,000 will be terrific for this year,” Hedden said.
     The Historical Society first became interested in pursuing this project last year, and because it was veteran related, they reached out to the Legion and Legion Auxiliary, who were more than happy to help out.
     “It is important to always remember the sacrifices people make when in military service, whether it is in peacetime or wartime. You are giving a part of your life to go serve your country,” Hedden said.
     Wreaths Across America, a national event held each year at over 2,000 cemeteries, will look different this year because of COVID-19. There will be no ceremony prior to the wreath laying on Saturday. Instead, a private ceremony will be held on Friday. According to Hedden, only 50 volunteers, picked ahead of time, will be allowed into the cemetery on Saturday to help place wreaths.
     Anyone who has asked to do their own wreath laying will have scheduled times, to ensure social distancing.
     “I would like to thank the people for giving us names and making donations,” Hedden said. “We get to have 10 volunteers from Dade County. We just couldn’t let them all volunteer this year, but I appreciate all the people who asked to volunteer.”
     The Wreaths Across America 2020 motto is “Be An American Worth Fighting For.” For more information, visit www.chattanoogawaa.com.

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