Last December, Charles Veazey worried that a rainstorm would scare people off from helping lay wreaths at a number of sites around Butler County as part of National Wreaths Across America Day to honor veterans. But this year, as the organizer of the event, he is confident that people will volunteer despite virus concerns.
They received 200 volunteers then and Veazey is hoping for a full turnout this year too.
“That's a good, wonderful amount. It was pouring down rain (last year) and we were worried we wouldn't get that many,” Veazey said.
Veazey helps organize the North Cemetery Association's Wreaths Across America event and, as in years past, the organization will be gathering at noon Dec. 19 in the cemetery, 1002 N. Main St. Ext.
According to the association's website, the ceremony is to “remember and honor our veterans through the laying of remembrance wreaths on the graves of our country's fallen heroes and the act of saying the name of each and every veteran aloud.”
Arlington event on
On Nov. 16, Arlington National Cemetery canceled its annual wreath ceremony. In a statement, they wrote, “Due to the current COVID-19 situation across the nation and within the NCR, it is with great regret that ANC is canceling Wreaths Across America at ANC and the Soldiers' and Airmen's Home Cemetery on Dec. 19, 2020.”
But the next day the cemetery reversed its decision noting that “the Secretary of the Army has directed Arlington National Cemetery to safely host Wreaths Across America.”
They continued, “We appreciate the families and visitors who take time to honor and remember those who are laid to rest at our nation's most hallowed ground. Arlington National Cemetery will provide an update on the final schedule soon.”
Since the outbreak of the virus, Arlington National Cemetery has reduced the number of visitors allowed. And a few of its sites remain closed. The public is currently allowed to only visit grave sites. Masks are required in the cemetery.
Sponsors still needed
Veazey and other local organizers never planned on canceling their event, which is outdoors, and he said that people are already expressing interest for this year's event Dec. 19.
According to the North Cemetery Association's website Tuesday, 458 wreaths are sponsored and 492 are still needed. It costs $15 to sponsor a wreath.
Those interested can visit waabutler.com. Links are available to let people sponsor a wreath or volunteer to help place a wreath.
“We're getting a lot of support,” Veazey said. “It's a community event to honor our veterans. Our mission is to remember honor and teach. We remember the fallen. Honor those that served. And teach the young about freedom.”