Celebrating Our Fallen Heroes
National Wreaths Across America Day debuts in Shreveport Dec. 18
In Shreveport’s Greenwood Cemetery, located at 130 E. Stoner Ave., where 800 veterans lay to rest, a wreath-laying ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 18.
Through their nearly 25-year partnership to maintain the cemetery, the Shreveport Garden Study Club and the city of Shreveport will, for the first time, participate in the National Wreaths Across America Day to honor the local veterans. The not-forprofit, non-political community event joins more than 2,500 other celebrations across the country on Dec. 18 to commemorate veterans.
“Our goal is to bring military personnel and civilians together to celebrate those who made it possible to live free all these years,” said Susan Cage, a member of the Shreveport Garden Study Club.
Cage, along with fellow Shreveport Garden Study Club member Michele Q=Petersen, are representatives of the club’s program committee, which is working to make the event possible.
Wreaths Across America (WAA) was founded as a 501(c)3 organization in 2007, although the annual celebrations began much earlier. In 1992, WAA founder Morrill Worcester honored 5,000 veterans at Arlington National Cemetery with a surplus of wreaths left over from the holiday season. In 2005, a photo of the adorned wreaths on the stones at Arlington circulated the Internet, which gained the annual event national attention.
“There are thousands of celebrations across the country each year, and this is the first [celebration] planned for Shreveport,” said Cage. “We are upholding the Wreaths Across America’s mission: ‘To remember our fallen U.S. veterans, honor those who serve and teach our children the value of freedom.’”
“It’s important to teach the young people about the value of freedom – and how freedom is not really free,” Cage added.
More than 1.7 million wreaths were laid in 2020 to honor veterans. Locations included Pearl Harbor, most of the 50 states’ capitals, Valley Forge, as well as at The Pentagon, Shanksville, Pa., and Ground Zero. As of Sept. 30, 830,000 Americans have sponsored wreaths for this year’s National Wreaths Across America Day.
“The goal for our celebration is for our community to sponsor 800 wreaths for all of the local heroes buried at Greenwood Cemetery,” said Cage. “This is one small way we can ensure that the individuals who served to protect the freedoms of America never be forgotten and to bring the community together in patriotic commemoration.”
Community members can sponsor a wreath for $15 by visiting www. WreathsAcrossAmerica.org/LA0075P.
“Sponsoring a wreath plays a part in recognizing those upon whose shoulders we stand as Americans today,” said Cage. “It says, ‘I am honoring those who have given so much.’ I like to think of Sir Winston Churchill’s quote, too: ‘You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.’” The last day to sponsor a wreath is Thursday, Nov. 25.
When the wreaths arrive from Columbia Falls, Maine – where they are handcrafted of all- American balsam and hand-tied with a red velvet bow – members of the Air Force Sergeants Association Chapter 615 at Barksdale Air Force Base will unpack each of them. Volunteers will then place the wreath upon the marker of a veteran.
Those interested in volunteering in the wreath-laying ceremony are encouraged to sign up ahead of time at www.WreathsAcrossAmerica.org/LA0075P.
“We are forever grateful for the thousands of supporters who dedicate their time and effort to fulfilling our mission on a local level,” said Karen Worcester, executive director, WAA. “These individuals and their communities know the value of remembering the fallen, honoring those who currently serve, and teaching the next generation about the sacrifices made for our freedom every day, and without their continued support, Wreaths Across America would not exist.”
Secured parking will be available at Greenwood Cemetery on Dec. 18, and there will be security on site.
In April 2022, the Shreveport Garden Study Club’s program committee has planned for WWA’s Mobile Education Exhibit to visit Shreveport.
In the meantime, a downloadable curriculum and coloring books are available to help school children appreciate America’s veterans’ roles in preserving individuals’ freedoms. WAA has designed these materials to encourage the direct involvement of local veterans, and they are available at www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/remember-honor-teach.
WAA’s mission – Remember, Honor, Teach – is carried out in part each year by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies in December at Arlington, as well as thousands of veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states.