Honoring all veterans is the goal of Wreaths Across Franklin County organizers.
The program, in its third year, provides Christmas wreaths to be placed upon veterans graves during the holiday season. Organizers said this year, they will not be able to place as many wreaths as last year.
“This year, our donations really slid off,” Don Marconette, a Wreaths Across Franklin County organizer, said. “Last year, we put out about 2,000 wreaths. This is done all through donations. In the process, we had to replace a bunch of bows. Unfortunately, we have not gotten the bows.”
Organizers will only put wreaths on the veterans graves at Highland and Princeton cemeteries this year. Marconette said volunteers — such as the Boy Scouts and 4-H Clubs — will adorn those graves with wreaths next Saturday and pick them up in the middle of January.
Marconette said the wreaths are in good shape and every so often, the bows need replaced.
“A lot of those bows, the weather makes them fade out and tear,” Marconette said. “It is a little bit different than Wreaths Across America because they are buying fresh bows every year. We keep the bows in boxes in storage.”
Marconette said if the donations come in, they would like to purchase new bows and 1,000 more wreaths to cover all the veterans in the county.
“This only works with people donating,” Marconette said. “It takes money to purchase the wreaths and the bows. Whatever help we can get, we really appreciate it. The wreaths are in great shape. They will last quite a few years.”
The goal of the organizers is to display the wreaths on the graves during Memorial Day weekend.
“Tour the cemetery this [Christmas] and look at the bows and wreaths,” Marconette said. “We have veterans that are leaving us. We want to honor all our veterans. It is something we take a lot of pride in. We are proud of our veterans. Our goal is to make sure we keep our veterans in our hearts and minds.”
Marconette said the VFW is in charge of placing flags on the veterans headstones during the holidays. He said veteran organizations are in charge of buying the flag holders for the graves.
“A lot of times how we know they are a veteran is a flag holder,” Marconette said. “If they don’t have a flag holder, mention it to us. Hopefully we cover all the veterans. If we miss one, let us know and we will get a wreath on it.”
Marconette said checks and money orders need to be made out to Wreaths Across Franklin County. If you would like to donate or make sure a veteran receives a flag and wreath, call Marconette at (785) 521-0130.
He said donations may be made in honor of a veteran.
“Every penny counts,” Marconette said. “It is something we will try to continue every year.”
Marconette said families of the veterans have noticed when the flags and wreaths are on the graves.
“It is to show them they are not forgotten,” Marconette said. “We get a lot comments, saying ‘it is a wonderful thing we are doing.’ We are proud to do it. We are keeping people aware of our veterans and sacrifices made.”