A Christmas tradition will continue next Saturday when the Annual Wreath Laying Ceremony is held at the Southwest Virginia Veterans Cemetery in Dublin.
The event will be held at the cemetery Saturday, Dec. 14 at 1 p.m. and is conducted through a partnership between the Southwest Virginia Veterans Cemetery Volunteers and the Virginia Department of Veterans Services.
Southwest Virginia Veterans Cemetery, located at 5550 Bagging Plant Road in Dublin, is one of three state veterans cemeteries across the Commonwealth – the other two being in Suffolk and Amelia, near Richmond.
According to the Veterans Cemetery Volunteers, 1,200 wreaths will be placed during the event, and the number grows yearly. Wreaths are made possible through the generosity of individuals and organizations. Donations may be made to Southwest Virginia Veterans Cemetery Volunteers, a 501©3 corporation, and mailed to P.O. Box 11373, Blacksburg, VA 24062.
Guest speaker for next Saturday’s event will be Steven J. Combs, Acting Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services.
Others participating in the event include LTC Jeff Perkins, USAR (Ret.) as Masters of Ceremonies; Dublin Mayor Benny Skeens providing the welcome, and Rev. Pam Phillips of Unitarian Universalist Congregation Blacksburg.
Music for the event will be provided by members of the 29th Division Virginia Army National Guard Band. The Virginia State Police Color Guard will present the colors, and members of the Roanoke Battalion USN Sea Cadet Corps will lead the gathering in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Also participating will be the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Rifle Team, and bagpiper Andrew Shields Meeks.
The United Auto Workers Ride for Freedom Truck will haul in the wreaths to be placed at veterans’ graves, with a motorcycle escort by UAW Local 2069.
Special military wreath placements will be handled by members of the Military Officers Association – Southwest Virginia Chapter, including (Army) Col. Gary Eifried (Ret.); (Marines) Col. Thomas Daizell (Ret.); (Navy) CDR Lee Ensley (Ret.); (Air Force) Col. Mark Clark (Ret.); (Coast Guard) Lt. David Brammer (Ret.), and (POW/MIA) Col. John Miller (Ret.)
Col. Rick Littleton, USA (Ret.) serves as Events Director and Rick Pruitt is Sound Adviser.
Members of the Southwest Virginia Veterans Cemetery Volunteers include Barbara Clites, Andrew Robinson, Roger Clites, Mary Rubin, Judy Foster (Treasurer), Janet Shelburne, Crosby Houston (Secretary), Jackie Shelton, Gladys Hughes, Barbara Spence, Zelda Italiano, Margaret Spradlin, Vickie Laprade, Warren Spradlin (Vice Chairman); Eulalia Mills, Nina Stiles, James “Jim” McGuire, Mary Summers (Chairman), Jackie Muir, Linda D. Williams, Eric Patton and William “Bill” Wood.
For additional information on the volunteers organization, visit www.SWVAVCV.org
Note: According to Chairman Summers, the wreath laying event will proceed regardless of the weather on the 14th. But if those planning to attend are concerned about the forecast they can call the Cemetery Office (540-674-6893) the day of the program or check the Volunteer website www.swvavcv.org because the weather forecast could force organizers to move the program up to earlier in the day to beat bad weather.
By MIKE WILLIAMS,The Patriot