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Volunteers place wreaths on veterans’ graves at Mountain Home

Robert Houk • Dec 15, 2018 at 8:37 PM

JOHNSON CITY — Thousands of volunteers from across the region descended on the Mountain Home National Cemetery on Saturday to participate in the annual Wreaths Across America ceremony. Local Boy Scouts, area veterans organizations and high school ROTC groups were among those who laid 7,100 Christmas wreaths on the graves of veterans at the cemetery.

David Carter, location coordinator for Wreaths Across America, said the ceremony was not about “waving flags and remembering battles.” He urged every volunteer participating in the event to salute the grave and say the name of the veteran buried there “out loud so it carries on the wind.”

Four of the Christmas wreaths were placed on the graves of Medal of Honor winners, including Army Staff Sgt. James I. Spurrier Jr. for his service in Achain, France, during World War II.

Wreaths Across America is a nationwide movement to honor all fallen veterans with a wreath on every grave. The movement has grown to include more than 1,000 locations across the United States and in 26 U.S. military cemeteries on foreign soil.

The story of Wreaths Across America began when a 12-year-old paperboy, Morrill Worcester, was impressed by a trip to Arlington National Cemetery. Worcester later became a successful businessman, and when he found himself with a surplus of holiday wreaths in 1992, he decided to donate 5,000 wreaths to Arlington cemetery. That donation soon grew into an annual event.

When a photo of his Christmas wreaths covered in snow at the Arlington cemetery went viral on the internet in 2006, the Worcester Wreath Co. expanded the program nationwide. The nonprofit Wreaths Across America Foundation was formed the next year.

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