This is the seventh annual ceremony in Chattanooga. Seven ceremonial wreaths will be placed to remember those who served, honor their sacrifices and teach the younger generations about the high cost of freedom.
Specially designated wreaths for Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine and POW/MIA, will be placed on memorials during a ceremony to be coordinated simultaneously at more than 400 participating locations across the country.
State Rep. Kevin Brooks, 24th District, normally participates in the ceremony, but will be unable to lay a wreath this year because Gov. Bill Haslam is scheduled to deliver the commencement address at Lee University.
Though he cannot be at the cemetery in person, he said, “The Wreaths Across America program truly pays respect to those who have given their all for God and country. It is always a privilege to stand in the Chattanooga National Cemetery and witness row upon row of festive wreaths placed in honor of those to whom honor is due.”
A number of civic groups including Sons of the American Revolution, Daughters of the American Revolution, Children of the American Revolution, Navy Seabee Vets of Chattanooga, Signal Mountain Sea Cadet Division, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of America and others joined with Wreaths Across America to either sponsor or place wreaths on graves in designated sections in the national cemetery.
”I salute the Tennessee Civil Air Patrol cadets and members and other organizations who brave a few hours of cold to place each wreath on each headstone by hand. It reminds me that some of these heroic men and women we are honoring may have spent hours, days or even weeks in the cold, to protect and preserve the freedom that we all enjoy,” Brooks said.
”It is a national treasure that we take time to honor these national heroes. My prayer is that we never forget the sacrifice and the honor that is due each of these servicemen and servicewomen.”
More than 700 wreaths were placed on Chattanooga graves in 2011. Each year the sections are rotated to eventually include all gravesites. Immediately following the noon ceremony everyone is invited to help place the wreaths on headstones. Each wreath costs $15.
For information on how to support the Civil Air Patrol and its involvement in the Wreaths Across America, visit waa.chattanoogacap.com, call 1st Lt. Richard Dyer at 423-698-5402 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with 57,000 volunteer members nationwide. Civil Air Patrol performs more than 90 percent of the continental U.S. inland search-and-rescue operations tasked by the U. S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, and is credited with saving up to a hundred lives per year. CAP volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counter-drug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies.
The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 20,000 young people currently participating in cadet programs. Civil Air Patrol has been performing missions for America since 1941.