Local News

Cumberland County cemetery is seeking wreaths to honor veterans for the holidays

Posted November 5, 2019 9:07 p.m. EST
Updated November 5, 2019 9:52 p.m. EST

— Every grave site is decorated with old glory. But in recent years, not every headstone could wear a wreath for Christmastime.

Last year, thousands went without. And for loved ones, that hurts.

Gravestones are heavy with poignancy. Etched upon them are names of husbands and fathers, the beloved.

Etched up on one grave is the name of Sheila Graham's daughter, Aiyanna Perkins, 22, who was in a car accident.

“She was about to graduate and go into the military. And she wanted to be an attorney for Jag,” said Graham.

“Her husband was in the military, and he was getting ready to deploy a couple of days before she passed,” she said.

Etched upon every stone -- and there are more than 7,000 at the Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery in Fayetteville -- is a story of love and loss. But stones are hard, cold, and colorless. They need tenderness.

Putting wreaths on graves of veterans

“It’s important to place a wreath on her grave because my daughter loved Christmas, loved the holidays,” said Graham.

Ann Provencher is with Rolling Thunder. Her group and others - the local VFW and Gold Star Mothers - are working to make sure every grave has a wreath.

Wreathes Across America is a nonprofit organization continuing the legacy of annual wreath-laying.

“Wreaths Across America are just another way to honor our veterans,” said Provencher.

“We just cannot keep up with the demand and we need the public’s help with this,” she said. “It’s very heartbreaking, especially when someone comes up and asks what we’re doing, and then when we’re done, they go to their loved ones grave and they’ll come back to us and say, ‘why didn’t I get one for my loved one?’”

It costs $70,000 to cover this particular cemetery alone. Last year, there were 2,500 wreaths, but still 1,500 wreaths short.

What's priceless is to watch Joyce Gordon place poinsettias at the grave of two friends. The message here is vivid.

National Wreaths Across America Day is a day that holds wreath-laying ceremonies in Arlington National Cemetery as well as more than 1,600 locations across the U.S. and abroad on Dec. 14.

Join Wreaths Across America by sponsoring a veterans’ wreath at a cemetery near you, volunteering or donating to a local fundraising group. Click here for more information.

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