LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - In the past, the Arkansas State Veteran Cemetery has worked with Wreaths Across America to get beautiful wreaths on each veteran’s grave. It is a way to show appreciation for their service. While the mission has always been to get a wreath for every grave, the cemetery’s Beautification Foundation said it was often a struggle to find enough donors to get all the wreaths they needed. It wasn’t until during 2016’s wreath laying ceremony that no grave was left bare.
This year, they faced a different struggle: they had all the wreaths they needed, but they didn't have a way to transport them.
After working with a company that supplies artificial wreaths for the veteran cemetery in Fort Smith, Cynde Maddox, member of the Arkansas State Veteran Cemetery’s Beautification Foundation, said they were able to get 6,000 wreaths for $6,000 dollars. Compared to last year's cost of over $90,000 for the live wreaths, this was a major success.
“We made a couple of phone calls, we got the donors, we got the truck donated and we went to Fort Smith and brought the wreaths back,” said Maddox.
Now, they had a lot of long lasting wreaths for every veteran's grave but no way to get them to the cemetery. All the boxes full of wreaths are in a temporary storage facility about 20 minutes away from the cemetery. The previous volunteers who had provided transportation were unable to continue helping this year.
"To complete this program we need[ed] someone to provide transportation from the warehouse to the cemetery next Friday to offload the wreaths so we are ready for our ceremony Saturday,” she said.
Maddox said they needed a 50-foot trailer, truck and driver but luckily they found that.
While the cemetery faces multiple challenges, Maddox said she has a lot of faith in Arkansans to help make this mission happen.
“Never have Arkansans let us down, no matter what, for the military and for the veterans,” she said. “I’m counting on everyone to think of what they can come up with to get the wreaths here.”
There are additional ways you can help. Maddox said the cemetery is also looking for someone that could provide permanent storage for all of the wreaths. They need someone with a storage area that is about 5,000 cubic feet. They also need volunteers to help lay the wreaths on the 8,000 graves during the ceremony on December 16 from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m..