A service member plays the bag pipes during a Wreaths Across America wreath-laying ceremony at Alabama National Cemetery.
A service member plays the bag pipes during a Wreaths Across America wreath-laying ceremony at Alabama National Cemetery.

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Wreaths Across America set for Dec. 14 at Alabama National Cemetery

Published 10:06am Friday, December 6, 2013



MONTEVALLO – The fifth annual Wreaths Across America ceremony will be Dec. 14 at 11 a.m. at the Alabama National Cemetery.

During the annual tribute, which is open to the public, family of fallen service members and volunteers will lay holiday wreaths at the cemetery’s more than 2,400 gravesites. Jeff Jones will play “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes and lead the wreath-laying procession.

Mel Shinholster, a Shelby County resident, Vietnam War veteran and president of the Blue Start Salute Foundation, Inc., will serve as master of ceremonies. Major Gen. James W. Darden of the U.S. Army Reserve will be the keynote speaker.

The Alabama National Guard Military Funeral Honors will give the rifle salute, and Gene Ramsay and Jim Quakenbush of the Alabama chapter of Bugles Across America will play “Taps.”

The program is sponsored by The Blue Star Salute Foundation of Alabama, Support Committee for the Alabama National Cemetery and the Civil Air Patrol of Bessemer.

The BSSFI secured sponsors for the wreaths that will be used in the Alabama National Cemetery ceremony.

Wreaths Across America was formed as a non-profit organization in 2007 as a response from people around the country asking how they could get involved in the Arlington Wreath Laying Project, which started at Arlington National Cemetery in 1992, according to a press release from the Alabama Department of Veteran Affairs.

The annual wreath-laying ceremony is held in Washington D.C. and all 50 states. The annual tribute “will promote a week-long series of events designed to raise awareness and appreciation for the sacrifices of our nation’s veterans and their families,” according to the press release.

The public is also invited to attend the Wreaths Across America State House Ceremony to be held at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 9, in the auditorium of the State Capitol. The ceremony will include special remarks by Gov. Robert Bentley, patriotic music, and the laying of a holiday wreath at the Alabama’s Fallen Heroes Memorial inside the State Capitol.


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