“Christmas Honors” – Fort Smith, Arkansas
The Ft. Smith National Cemetery now honors over 16,000 veterans. Before Christmas, volunteers come to the Ft. Smith Convention Center to put red bows on wreaths to decorate the headstones as you see here.
I’ve done this twice with my good friend, Carla, whose husband is buried here.
There were lots and lots of tables set up in a huge room. Other volunteers came with long poles on which wreaths were hung. They would pile them on the tables for us. Then others would come by with piles and piles of bows ready to be tied onto the wreaths. As we worked, still more would come to take the finished wreaths to waiting trucks for transport to the cemetery.
Christmas music played in the background and volunteers sang along or talked to the others at the tables. It took several hours, as you might imagine, to get the bows on 16,000 wreaths, but the feeling of love and warmth in that room took my breath away. Carla and I laughed and talked, hugged from time to time, took some breaks, and met other really nice people.
There is a special time for people who have loved ones in the cemetery to put a wreath on those headstones in a more private setting. When that has been done, volunteers put a wreath on all the others until all are decorated. As you can see, the finished product of the efforts is impressive.
After the holidays, the wreaths are gathered by more volunteers. The bows are removed and stored in huge boxes and the wreaths stored on poles for next year. It’s a beautiful way to honor our vets for their service. A very special time for me to help Carla honor her husband.