Christmas Honors

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…

Route 66

A couple of years ago, we spent a day traveling from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Oklahoma City, via the remains of old Route 66.  In some areas, there is still highway; in others, we have to travel on newer roads that parallel the old.  We plan to do more, but for now, here are a few images from that day.

Many of the attractions from the old days are still in place – as well as new ones for the tourists.  It is interesting to note that many people, some from around the world, come to see what was known as “The Mother Road,” even those that are too young to have ever traveled upon the road…

The 5 and Diner restaurant, Tulsa

A neon sign lights up the Tulsa night at the 5 and Diner restaurant, reminiscent of a 50’s diner

Coca-Cola Sign refurbished in Stroud

In Stroud, a Coca-Cola sign has been colorfully restored on the side of a downtown building.

Hickory House Mural

Mural painted on the wall of the Hickory House Barbecue Restaurant in Sapulpa depicts Route 66 scenes and history

Chandler Interpretive Center

The Chandler Interpretive Center is an interactive multimedia museum, with film clips of Route 66 stories, viewed in seats from period cars, theatre seats, and even a motel bed.

The Old Cotton Gin

The Old Cotton Gin, it has also been a restaurant, an antiques store, and a second-hand goods store.

Having lived in California for several years as a child, I remember traveling Route 66 to visit family in Oklahoma.  Before there was an Interstate 40 highway, we drove through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and into our home state of Oklahoma.  Nostalgic?  Perhaps, but I also appreciate the history represented by the remnants of old Route 66…

These photographs were created with a Sony Alpha 77 camera, a Tamron 17-50 lens, and often a circular polarizing filter.  I edited the raw files with Paint Shop Pro.