Press Room

Wreaths Across America Day held at Fort Mitchell National Cemetery

PHOTOS: Wreaths Across America

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Retired and current service members as well as supporters of the military came together at Fort Mitchell National Cemetery on Saturday to place 2,000 wreaths on the graves of veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

The Auburn Composite Squadron, Civil Air Patrol, in conjunction with Fort Mitchell National Cemetery joined other cemeteries throughout the nation and overseas on Wreaths Across America day.

“We are gathered as one nation to remember, honor and teach,” Whitehead said.

Fort Mitchell National Cemetery has been a part of the national event since 2006, according to Lt. Col. Chris Tate, public affairs officer for the Auburn Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol and location coordinator for Wreaths Across America at Ft. Mitchell National Cemetery.

“We are one nation under one flag,” Tate said. “The freedoms that we enjoy everyday have not come without a price. We will remember.”

During the ceremony, an address was given by retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess Jr., who was the guest speaker for the event.

“I am amazed, humbled and honored to be a part of this,” Burgess said.

Burgess said 7 in 10 qualified for military service when he was commissioned in Military Intelligence through the Auburn University ROTC Program in 1974. In 2016, he said that number has gone down to 3 in 10 people.

“We’re not qualifying as many people,” Burgess said. “Our connective tissue as military in the society that we serve has become tenuous.”

There are 82,647 service members who are Prisoners of War or Missing in Action, according to Burgess.

After the ceremony, those in attendance helped place wreaths on the graves. The wreaths are handmade by the Wreaths Across America Company out of Worchester, Maine.

There are 10,000 graves at Fort Mitchell National Cemetery, according to Quincy Whitehead, cemetery director at Fort Mitchell National Cemetery.

“They rest in honor, dignity and peace,” Whitehead said.

Amanda Tally, who is currently serving in the Army, participated in the event with some members of the Team Red, White and Blue Fort Benning, Georgia Chapter. The group helps enrich the lives of veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity, according to the team’s website.

“It means everything,” Tally said.