Giving wreaths for fallen soldiers

Wreaths were placed on veterans' graves last holiday season as a part of the Wreaths Across America program.

By KATIE HURST/ Staff Writer

MONTEVALLO —This holiday season, a local group is making sure the grave of each fallen veteran at the Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo is marked with a fresh wreath.

The Blue Star Salute Foundation is sponsoring 400 holiday wreaths needed for the cemetery, but they need help from the community, said Glenn Nivens, secretary of the group.

The initiative is part of the Wreaths Across America non-profit organization, which each year strives to put wreaths on every veterans’ grave across the country.

The program started after the president of the Worchester Wreath Company in Maine started donating 5,000 wreaths each year for headstones in Arlington National Cemetery. Unable to donate wreaths for national cemeteries in the rest of the country, Wreaths Across America finds groups to sponsor each cemetery.

This year, The Blue Star Salute Foundation is partnering the Bessemer Civil Air Patrol to ensure that each grave in Montevallo gets a wreath.

“This is a national endeavor to include all of the national cemeteries,” Nivens said. “The wreaths are all identical and they’re trucked in from Maine directly to the cemetery, then we have to provide the worker bees. We’ve been working with Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to help out with that and we think we’ll be able to get it done.”

The group is asking members of the community and businesses to help by sponsoring wreaths for $15 a piece, he said. The money will go directly toward purchasing the wreaths.

“Those guys served this nation with every ounce of their energy,” Nivens said. “Now it’s time for us to pay full recognition and respect to them.”

There are currently 650 occupied graves in the cemetery and the group is anticipating 800 by December. They ask for donations by Nov. 20 so they can order the wreaths by Nov. 28, allowing enough time for them to be shipped by early December.

“We’ve had some very good success so far,” Nivens said. “We’re not where we need to be yet, but we still have a few more weeks.”

On Dec. 11, the group will hold a Wreaths Across America ceremony at 11 a.m. at the cemetery.  Participating national cemeteries across the country will hold ceremonies at the same time.  Wreaths will be placed on the graves by the date of the ceremony and the public is invited to attend.

For more information on Wreaths Across America or to sponsor a wreath, visit Bluestarsalute.org or call 672-2887.