The Wreaths Across America’s mission to “remember, honor and teach,” is the foundation behind all the organization’s efforts.
Throughout the year, local volunteers have been tirelessly working to make certain that families, loved ones and heroes get honored and remembered for the holidays. However, the challenge came to figure out a way in doing so that is consistent with safety concerns due to COVID-19. By order of the National Cemetery Administration from Washington, recommendations and mandates were handed down to district levels and passed on to the local channels of national cemeteries across the nation.
“When I received this notice, it broke my heart,” said Carlean Parker, local volunteer coordinator for Wreaths Across America at Corinth National Cemetery. “As the local coordinator of the Wreaths Across America ceremony and placing of the wreaths for our Corinth National Cemetery, this project is very near and dear to me. Every year I have just been more in awe of the support and participation in this event. Not only do we take sponsorships for the national cemetery, we offer the opportunity for others to purchase sponsorships for wreaths to be taken to other cemeteries. As a member of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 6 of the Department of Mississippi, I also offer this to other units in district one who can take orders for wreaths to be picked up here and taken to cemeteries for veterans and loved ones in their areas.”
To ensure the continuance of this year’s program in the Corinth National Cemetery, modifications have been made for National Wreaths Across America Day which is Saturday, Dec. 19.
“Know that we are not dropping the ball, but are simply following the protocol that has been set before us as it is of the utmost importance to continue to show the families of our nation’s heroes just how much we appreciate their ultimate sacrifice, especially in the trying times of today,” said Parker.
At first the order came down that there would be no ceremonies and wreath laying, but after many conversations between the National Cemetery Administration and the Wreaths Across America organization, the decision to amend this year’s traditional wreath laying process was not made lightly and have gone to great lengths to address public safety while maintaining the best interests of families whose loved ones are interred the national cemeteries across the nation due to the seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak, she said.
There will be no public ceremony, but local volunteers will be placing wreaths on Saturday, Dec. 19 from 1 p.m. until 2 p.m. Only 50 volunteers will be allowed for the laying of wreaths.
“We only have approximately 1,000 wreaths this year and that time frame should be ample time. If you ordered a ‘grave specific’ wreath please be assured that if you choose not to participate this year it will get to the specified grave. If you ordered wreaths to be picked up, you will be notified of the time and place for pick up. Wearing masks, gloves and practicing of social distancing is advised. Hand sanitizer will be available on the premises. I am asking that if you have been exposed to COVID or if you are sick in anyway, please do not come to this event. Your cooperation in this matter is greatly appreciated,” said Parker.
“These continued efforts prove our resolve and tell the story of our commitment to our fallen veterans while demonstrating our appreciation for everything they have done to preserve the freedom that we all enjoy today,” she added.
Parker will not be attending the wreath laying due to health reasons, but other members of the American Legion family will be on hand.
“I know this is frustrating and I do apologize, but we must follow the protocol guidelines,” said Parker. “I am in high hopes – as are many others – that things of all nature will be back to somewhat normal soon. This has been a horrible year of hardships and loss of loved ones. We are all in this together. We must band together and do what we can. I ask that you continue to pray for our military, our government and most of all, for one another.”