The 7th. Annual Wreaths Across America ceremony will be held at noon Saturday at Fort Jackson National Cemetery.
The ceremony, headlined by Maj. Gen. Roger Cloutier, Fort Jackson’s commander, is intended to honor and remember the veterans buried at the cemetery. Organizers plan to have a wreath for each of the more than 4,000 gravesites at the cemetery.
The public is invited to join volunteer groups, active duty service members and veterans in placing the wreaths. Among the organizations represented will be more than a dozen high school Junior ROTC units, Civil Air Patrol and Sea Scout units, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and participants representing all five branches of the military.
The most important participants, said cemetery director Gene Linxwiler, are the families of the veterans buried there.
“It’s a mix of emotions,” he said. “Of course, if a family member has recently passed, its going to be a little somber. But it’s also a celebration of the season. The general spirit is dignified and honorable, and its about remembrance. Absolutely.”
About 4,000 people attended last year, according to organizer and veterans advocate Carol Davis, who noted there are are 12 other national, state and county veterans cemeteries across South Carolina that will have ceremonies along with 800 other locations around the nation and world.
Often they have more people at the ceremony than wreaths, Linxwiler said. So families go first, then children, then everyone else. Some wreaths are kept in reserve to place on new burials during the Christmas season.
“It’s a great opportunity for the community to come out, honor our veterans and support the cemetery,” Linxwiler said.
If you’re going
What: Wreaths Across America ceremony
Where: Fort Jackson National Cemetery, 4170 Percival Road, Columbia.
When: Noon, Saturday
Parking: Blue Cross Blue Shield parking lot on Percival Road. Shuttle buses provided.