In 2009 a local program was born – Christmas Honors. A group of founding volunteers decided that every headstone in the Fort Smith National Cemetery would receive a wreath. In 2009, over 1,000 volunteers participated in event. 12,000 wreaths and ribbons were needed to decorate each and every grave site. In 2019, the number is around 18,000. It’s a small thing our community can do to honor the men and women who have served our country.
This is one of the wreaths and the bow we were tying on each wreath. What doesn’t show in my picture was the wreath glistened with silvery shiny stuff. Pretty!
This is the third year my friend, Carla, and I have participated in this. When I walked into the convention center, I was completely overcome by how MANY, MANY people were there – all to get the wreaths ready to put on the veterans’ graves. Tears came up and spilled over, that – with all the negativity in the world – THIS could happen.
There were people bringing in box after box of wreaths. Others bringing in boxes of red bows. Others walking around with bamboo type poles, where they gathered the finished wreaths and took them out to trucks behind the convention center. The picture below shows a cart used to gather finished wreaths.
Carla and I worked as fast as we could from 9:00 until 2:00. Thankfully, there was a chair we could share to plop down and rest for a minute or two every once in awhile. It felt good to be working together surrounded by a big, noisy room of others all dedicated to the same goal – honoring the men and women who have served our country. Christmas music played and we sang along.
This is my lovely friend, Carla. She simply exudes kindness from every pore. She is also my partner in the booth in the local shop in Greenwood. We love being together, and it’s doubly good when we’re doing something for others.
Here I am. We didn’t work long before outer jackets came off and were tied around our waists.
Each hour we would stop and sing our National Anthem, standing, with hands on our hearts. The whole room was full of voices, filling our hearts. About the half way point – 12:30 – the man at the microphone said we were behind schedule on getting all 18,000 or so wreaths finished, and asked some of the people doing other things to pitch in on tying bows. We accomplished our goal.
This coming Saturday at 8 a.m.the wreaths will be available to family members who want to place their wreath privately, having a bit of privacy. Then, at 11:00 there will be a ceremony where all the rest of the wreaths will be placed on each grave by still more volunteers.
The wreaths will stay up until the middle of January, I think. Then, still another group of volunteers will gather up the wreaths, take the bows off, and store bows and wreaths until next year.
A really nice tradition – Christmas Honors.