Christmas Honors

In 2009, the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce started a program to honor the veterans buried in the Fort Smith National Cemetery.  Inspired by Arlington National Cemetery and “Wreaths Across America,” the goal was to lay a Christmas wreath upon each grave in the cemetery.  It has been a huge success.  The community has joined together and each year, over 1,000 volunteers have assembled the wreaths in a remarkably short period of time, then the veterans’ families, scout troops, veterans groups, and Jr ROTC units have placed the wreaths on the graves.

Most of the photos shown here are from 2011, and one from 2009.

Wreaths by the road

After being assembled, the wreaths are placed in groups along the cemetery road, waiting to be placed on the graves. Family members are the first to place the wreaths, and everyone allows them time alone with their departed loved ones.

Wreaths were covered with frost

That morning in December 2011, was very cold, and the wreaths and red ribbons were covered with frost

An area of Unknown Soldiers' graves

In an area of Unknown US Soldiers’ graves, local Jr ROTC troops place the wreaths

Jr ROTC trooper salutes the grave of an unknown

After placing the wreath on the grave of an Unknown US Soldier, the young cadet salutes the grave headstone, to honor the fallen

Snow on the Wreaths

In 2009 – the first year for Christmas Honors – we received a snowfall on Christmas Day.
Understand this… it never snows on Christmas Day in Fort Smith, Arkansas. 🙂
This is only one of probably at least a hundred thousand photos taken before the snow melted…

These are only a few photos, and others have taken more and better.  But, this is a story about a community that came together and worked together to honor our fallen brothers and sisters.  I think it’s a good thing they’ve done…

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