Wreath-laying at military cemeteries is Saturday

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 7, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
About 1,500 live wreaths adorned with a bright red bows will be placed on headstones in the Salisbury National Cemetery Annex and the Salisbury National Cemetery on Saturday.
The ceremonies will be conducted simultaneously with 600 other events across the country in conjunction with Wreaths Across America Day.
Wreaths Across America is a nonprofit organization created to continue and expand the annual holiday wreath laying that began at Arlington National Cemetery in 1992.
Ronnie Faggart, state captain for the Patriot Guard of North Carolina, said the event at the cemetery annex at 501 Statesville Blvd. will be very “honorable and formal.”
“Our goal is to remember the ones who have fought, bled, died and suffered to give us the freedoms that we have,” Faggart, the organizer of the event, said. “It is to honor their service and their families left behind and to teach our children the value of freedom.”
During the ceremony, wreaths will be presented to honor those who served in the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines, as well as prisoners of war and the missing in action.
After the ceremony, Faggart will ask the public to come forward to take a wreath to place on a grave.
“I’ll tell them to write down the name of the person they gave their wreath to and go home and research that person,” he said. “They’ll find out that is not just a name on a stone, but somebody’s loved one with a history behind them.”
The ceremony at the annex will be conducted by the Patriot Guard of North Carolina.
A similar ceremony, conducted by the Salisbury High School JROTC, will take place at the Salisbury National Cemetery at 1601 Brenner Ave.
Instructor Maj. Queen Williams said the ceremony will be on a smaller scale. She said it will feature guest speakers and the National Anthem will be played while the wreaths are distributed.
Students will place about 80 wreaths on the graves.
Williams said it’s important to get her students involved in Wreaths Across America.
“We have to keep reminding and teaching them about the value of freedom,” she said. “I also want them to understand the importance of honoring those who have come before us.”
Wreaths have been donated by a variety of local civic groups including the Cross Rifles Motorcycle Club of Harrisburg.
Faggart said a record number of wreaths will be placed throughout the two cemeteries this year.
“Every year it has grown,” he said. “Our goal is to continue growing until we can place a wreath on every grave there, because every one of those people signed a blank check to do anything to protect this country.”
The public is invited to attend both ceremonies, which begin at noon Saturday.
“We will be proud to have anyone join us for the service,” Williams said.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
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