Wreath program will honor veterans

Gravestones with Christmas wreaths in Arlington National Cemetery – Washington DC United States – DECEMBER 17 2017

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Posted December 4, 2020 | Ocala Gazette Staff

Just before Christmas each year, National Wreaths Across America Day honors fallen United States service members buried at Arlington National Cemetery and in more than 2,100 other locations in the 50 states, at sea and abroad.

This year’s day of commemoration is set for Dec. 19. In Ocala, a program and the laying of wreaths will begin at noon at Highland Memorial Park, 1515 NE 3rd St.

Wreaths Across America’s mission “touches the lives of thousands of school, scout, civic and religious groups across the country through fundraising for wreath sponsorships,” notes the nonprofit’s website. “These groups help us ensure that we reach our goal to place a wreath on each hero’s grave. In return, they receive fundraising dollars that assist in furthering their own goals and projects.”

The goal locally, according to Suzy McGuire, secretary of the Marion County Veterans Council, is to place 1,650 wreaths on the graves of veterans at Highland Memorial and 238 graves in the Cemetery of Belleview. Members of the council, along with members of American Legion Post 284 in Belleview and other volunteers, will place the wreaths.

“When a volunteer places the wreath, we say the name of the veteran,” McGuire noted. “It is believed as long as their name is being said, they are not forgotten.”

The cost to sponsor a wreath is $15. McGuire said the local group has raised enough money to purchase 1,500 wreaths for this year’s campaign but still needs help. Any donations that come in after deadline will be reserved for the 2021 commemoration, she said. 

In addition to her role with the Marion County Veterans Council, McGuire is the District Legislative Assistant for Sen. Keith Perry, District 8. Donations for Wreaths Across America can be made payable to that organization or to the Marion County Veterans Council and be mailed in care of McGuire to the government office at 115 SE 25th Ave., Ocala. To learn more, call McGuire at (352) 732-1249.

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