Fundraising Gears Up for Wreaths Across America 2020 at Eastside Cemetery

Col. Lee Smith addressed a crowd gathered in Eastside Cemetery in Martin for Wreaths Across America in December 2019 as distinguished guests and volunteers placed 200 sponsored wreaths om the graves of veterans buried in the cemetery. The cemetery houses more than 600 veterans.

Remember, Honor, Teach

“Be An American Worth Fighting For.”

MARTIN (December 19) Each year on National Wreaths Across America Day, millions of Americans – a third of whom are children – come together to remember the fallen, honor those who serve and their families and teach the next generation about the value of freedom. Locally, almost 200 wreaths were placed on veteran’s gravesites at Eastside Cemetery in 2019. This year, volunteers will recognize National Wreaths Across America Day at 11 a.m. Saturday, December 19.

Every year, a new theme is chosen by the national organization to help local volunteers and supporters focus their messaging and outreach in their communities. This year, the theme is “Be An American Worth Fighting For.” The inspiration for this year’s theme came from a keynote address made by Staff Sgt. Daniel Strong during the 2018 escort to Arlington welcome stop at Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School (Monty Tech) located in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. As an infantryman in the United States Marine Corps, Strong lost 18 Marines during his service; three were his friends when he was a Lance Corporal; six as their Squad Leader and the remaining nine as their Platoon Sergeant. Each impacted Staff Sgt. Strong in a unique way as he witnessed first-hand what true sacrifice was and experienced the ripple effect it has on all involved.

His message that December day spoke to the daily importance of the mission to Remember, Honor and Teach, and the emotion is now teacher-engrained in his JROTC students. “Be an American worth the sacrifice. In your daily operations, and in how you deal with one another and how you live your lives,” said Staff Sgt. Strong. “Those young men and women who are in Arlington National Cemetery and other cemeteries, they earned the right for you to be an American worth fighting for,” he added.

This sentiment speaks volumes as more United States military are deploying to serve and fight, if needed, to protect the freedoms enjoyed as American citizens.

“Each member playing his or her part so that we too can play ours back home by being an active participant in our communities,” Wreaths Across America local coordinator Linda Smith noted.

“When Eastside Cemetery in Martin became a Wreaths Across America location, an estimate of 150 veterans’ gravesites in the cemetery was provided. As the planning and preparation progressed for year two, we discovered that there are 600-plus veterans resting in Eastside.”

Last year, more than 200 wreaths were placed on the graves of veterans throughout Eastside Cemetery just before the Christmas holiday. Members of the community were invited to a special ceremony as a late veteran from each branch of the military, as well as an MIA, were remembered during the event. Sponsorships are $10/wreath and local non-profit organizations can partner to request a $15 sponsorship for wreaths as an additional fundraiser for their organization.

Smith added, “Despite the struggles of 2020, we hope to honor all 600-plus veterans this year. Further, in the spirit of this year’s theme, 10 wreaths have been sponsored in order to recognize those whose military service was related to health, law enforcement, fire protection and supply acquisition.”

Smith continued, “This is to help us remember all who have and continue to serve in these areas.”

Those who wish to sponsor a wreath for this year’s National Wreaths Across America Day, can visit the Eastside Cemetery location website at WreathsAcrossAmerica.org/pages/152858 and complete a sponsorship form online.

Otherwise, contact Linda Smith at lin_lees@hotmail.com to request more information or obtain a sponsorship form. The deadline for sponsorship is November 30, if mailed.

In the past, online sponsorships have gone approximately one week beyond that deadline. In addition, American Legion, Post #55-Martin, is participating in a new point-of-sales program during Friday and Saturday evening dinners. This will allow patrons to make donations of $1, $5, or $15 toward the sponsorships of wreaths. Any other business or organization wishing to participate in the point-of-sales program or desiring a presentation, please contact Linda Smith at 601-434-9597.

Help remember, honor and teach. Look for sponsorship trackers around town to see what a difference you make.

About Wreaths Across America

Wreaths Across America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded to continue and expand the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery began by Maine businessman Morrill Worcester in 1992. The organization’s mission – Remember, Honor, Teach – is carried out in part each year by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies in December at Arlington, as well as at hundreds of veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond.

For more information or to sponsor a wreath, visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.

Rolling Thunder TN-Chapter 6 Director David Winstead joined volunteers and guests to place wreaths on the graves of veterans buried at Eastside Cemetery in December of 2019. Wreath sponsorship is $10 each.

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