Pelham athletes pay tribute to veterans
Published 1:38 pm Tuesday, December 15, 2015
By JESSA PEASE / Staff Writer
PELHAM— Wreaths Across America began in 1992 when the Arlington National Cemetery received a surplus of Christmas wreaths, and shortly after it became a nationwide tradition.
This year, Pelham High School and Riverchase Middle School athletes adopted the tradition, sending more than 100 athletes and coaches to the Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo to honor the more than 4,000 fall soldiers buried there Dec. 12.
“Participating in the Wreaths Across America event is a great opportunity to teach our student athletes about the sacrifices of our fallen soldiers and honoring those who serve our country,” said Kim Kiel, athletic director of Pelham City Schools. “This act of community service reflects the values that we desire in our athletes – hard work, good character, sacrifice and commitment.”
The Pelham athletes, coaches and parents arrived at the Alabama National Cemetery at 6 a.m. to help unload about 4,000 wreaths. They moved and set up chairs for attendees, and helped lay the wreaths on gravesites to honor the veterans.
Pelham baseball coach Sean Anderson brought the idea to Kiel, after one of the dads on his team brought up the event. The father is a member of American Legion Matthew Blount Post 555, one of the organizations involved in the event.
Anderson said he approached Kiel with the idea to make Wreaths Across America an event for the entire athletic program at Pelham.
Being out there with the representatives from Pelham schools, Anderson said he could tell laying the wreaths meant a lot to the students.
“It did (mean a lot),” he said. “I’m sure it meant more to some than others…but I think it was very educational for our kids and it was very humbling.”
In total, Anderson guessed there were about 3,000 participants present for Wreaths Across America. He said he heard a representative say it was the largest turnout they have had.
Wreaths Across America will become a tradition for Riverchase Middle School and Pelham High School now, according to Kiel and Anderson. Kiel said they already have next year’s event on the calendar.
“I am so proud of the leadership of our coaches to dedicate time to encourage our young people about the importance of serving our community,” Kiel said.