Merchant’s Hope prepares for poignant Wreaths Across America ceremony

By: Sherry Williams Kidd | Twitter: @PGJournal
Posted: November 29, 2019 | 12:30 p.m. 

Community invited to participate in December ceremony

PRINCE GEORGE – Merchants Hope Memorial Gardens and Mausoleum will be participating for the first time in the national Wreaths Across America program. On December 14, participants will be placing wreaths on the graves of veterans laid to rest throughout Merchants Hope. Residents of Prince George and surrounding communities are urged to participate in this poignant yearly tribute to our nation’s veterans. There are three different ways available to become involved in this important tribute of respect and appreciation.

In 2005, a photo of the stones at Arlington, adorned with wreaths and covered in snow, circulated around the internet. Suddenly, this project received national attention. Thousands of requests poured in from all over the country from people wanting to help with Arlington, to emulate the Arlington project at their own national and state cemeteries, or to simply share their stories. The Wreaths Across America movement truly snowballed from there, and the iconic picture at Arlington became viral. This inspired increased national interest in the annual tribute, and prompted the formation of Wreaths Across America as a non-profit.

In 2014, Wreaths Across America and its national network of volunteers laid over 700,000 memorial wreaths at 1,000 locations in the United States and beyond, including ceremonies at the Pearl Harbor Memorial, as well as Bunker Hill, Valley Forge and the sites of the September 11, 2001 tragedies. This was accomplished with help from 2,047 fundraising groups, corporate contributions, and donations of trucking, shipping, and thousands of helping hands. The organization’s goal of placing wreaths on every single grave site in Arlington National Cemetery was finally met in 2014, with the placement of 226,525 wreaths.

Interested Central Virginia residents can participate with an online sponsorship by visiting http://wreathsacrossamerica.org/VAHOPE to order their wreaths. The deadline for the online sponsorship is December 2.

Residents can also become personally involved by helping in the wreath laying ceremony. For information on how you can participate in the ceremony, contact Merchants Hope Memorial Gardens at (804) 458-6197. For additional information, contact Donna Golightly, Location Coordinator, by telephone at (804) 898-1075, or by email at Donna@merchantshopecemetery.com.

“I have a deep regard for our country’s veterans,” remarked Donna Golightly, location coordinator for the cemetery. “My husband, father, father-in-law, and brother all served in the military, and I want them remembered and honored, along with all the active-duty military across our country. They have all given up the comforts of home to serve on foreign soil, in giving us the freedoms we have today in this great nation.”

The wreath-laying ceremony will take place on Saturday, December 14, at noon. Prince George High School’s JROTC will be presenting the colors. Remarks will be given by Donald Hunter, Chairman of the Prince George County Board of Supervisors. Pastor Eugene Balance will be the Master of Ceremonies for the program. South Elementary held a competition for its students to raise donations to help purchase wreaths for the ceremony. The students raised an amazing $754.58, the equivalent to 50 wreaths. Of that amount, the 5th grade classes of South Elementary raised $235.94. Since the 5th-graders raised the most donations for the wreaths, the school is allowing them to participate in the actual laying of the wreaths.

“I think it is an honor and privilege to remember, honor, and teach the community to remember our Veterans and active service members,” commented Carol Hendricks, owner of Merchants Hope. “This is the desire of all of us that work at Merchants Hope, where we consider our work an outreach of our personal ministries and of our churches.”

Copyright 2019 by Womack Publishing
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