Alta Vista Cemetery in Gainesville will be part of a worldwide ceremony Saturday in which wreaths are laid on the headstones of fallen United States veterans. It is the fifth year the remembrance will be held at the cemetery.
The C.W. Davis Middle School band will play patriotic music to begin the event at 11:45 a.m., followed by a moment of silence at noon that will be observed at more than 1,000 sites nationally and overseas through the organization Wreaths Across America.
The nonprofit was “founded to continue and expand the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery,” according to a press release.
Gail Mangum, location leader for the Alta Vista ceremony, said the wreath count is down to 450 this year, but the groups heading up the effort here have a goal of one day laying a wreath on the approximately 1,200 fallen veterans’ graves in the same year.
Currently, the effort starts at a different side of the cemetery each year to make sure all the fallen veterans are honored over a multi-year period.
The Gen. James Longstreet Chapter 46 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy heads up the event, while Mangum said the Civil Air Patrol Squadron 160 out of Gainesville, American Heritage Girls Georgia Troop 513 and the Col. William Chandler Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution spearhead fundraising efforts.
She also noted that the Upper Chattahoochee Detachment 665 of the Marine Corps League is instrumental in helping pull together veterans from various branches of service to be part of Saturday’s ceremony.
Word of mouth, social media, going to businesses and placing fliers in windows are some of the methods used to raise money for the wreath-laying. Mangum called it a “hit the pavement, grassroots movement.”
“Wreaths Across America has grown on the passion of our volunteers,” Wreaths Across America Executive Director Karen Worcester said in a press release. “Many of our organization’s most successful ideas came from those who do the real work of organizing and carrying out our ceremonies in their hometowns. It is overwhelming to realize that more than 1,000 locations are living our mission to remember, honor and teach the service and sacrifice of veterans.”