By Mike Steely
We’re fortunate in Knox County to have three veteran cemeteries. On Saturday, December 19, all three hallowed burial grounds should be totally decorated with wreaths from the local “Wreaths Across America” but there’s a problem.
Donations to purchase the wreaths is lagging behind. Chris Albrecht, Wreath Program Ambassador, is urgently asking for contributions to obtain the wreaths.
“I consider October 1st to put us in ’season‘ for collecting donations,” he told The Focus. “We have a ways to go. 2020 is giving us some challenges to overcome,” he added.
Many people have lost friends to death or injuries during the wars. Those of us who survived without injuries certainly salute those fallen or wounded fellow veterans and all those men and women who served or continue to serve and those veterans among the growing number of homeless in our community.
Now, as veterans of the Vietnam-era grow older, the nation has come to appreciate that service and those older veterans who served in Korea, World War II, and the many middle-east conflicts. Many rely on the Veterans Administration for health care, housing loans, disability pay, and the like.
The one thing we can always rely on is the availability of a military honors and burial in one of the Knox County veteran cemeteries.
A veterans park is being planned now across the river from the south-side veterans cemetery and the honors there and in the other cemeteries at the time of internment are special. We salute the cemeteries and appreciate the honor guards from all services that perform the services.
Many of us also look to the Wreaths Across America to have the ability to purchase wreaths and decorate the graves at the National Cemetery, the Lyons View and the Tennessee Veterans Cemetery on Governor John Sevier Highway.
The wreaths, placed each year just before the Christmas holidays, are a beautiful tribute to those veterans of past service, past wars, and even recent and active-duty veterans who have passed away.
You can donate to purchase wreaths. One individual sponsorship is $15 or two for $30. The most popular sponsorship is five wreaths for $75. Ten wreaths are $150 and custom numbers of wreaths are also available. You may also designate in which veteran cemetery the wreaths are to be placed.
Albrecht said Wednesday that the donations for wreaths are falling behind. He said the John Sevier cemetery which needs 4,000 plus wreaths only has 952; the National Cemetery downtown needs 9,000 but only has 867; and the graves at Lyons View require at least 5,000 wreaths but only has 2,396.
If you can help with the wreath program you can donate by mail to Wreaths Across America Knoxville, P.O. Box 59954, Knoxville, Tn. 37950, or call (865) 207-4294. You may also find the campaign online at knoxwreaths.org.