Veterans honored at Wreaths Across America ceremony


A Wreaths Across America ceremony was recently held at Walmart Distribution Center in Seymour to honor the nation’s fallen soldiers.

The event also was designed to recognize the company’s efforts to transport trailers of wreaths to cemeteries across America to be placed on the headstones of the fallen.

Seymour Mayor Matt Nicholson, who spoke during the ceremony, said he was happy to take a moment to remember the country’s veterans.

“It’s a great thing to be a part of a nationwide project here,” he said. “Thank you all for taking time out of your busy schedule to remember our fallen heroes.”

Walmart Distribution Center driver Greg Barnett was at the ceremony to receive a semitrailer full of wreaths to take to Hopkinsville, Kentucky.

The company is donating 16 semitrailers to transport 100,000 wreaths to National Wreaths Across America Day ceremonies, according to a news release from the company. This year’s Wreaths Across America Day was Saturday. The 2022 Wreaths Across America Day will be Dec. 17.

Wreaths Across America is nonprofit organization founded in 1992 to continue and expand upon an annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. The organization’s mission is to “Remember, Honor, Teach.”

In 2020, there were more than 2,500 participating locations that held events during National Wreaths Across America Day. A total of 1.7 million wreaths were placed on the headstones of veterans.

Walmart General Transportation manager Jason Bickham, who also spoke at the ceremony, gave more information about the cause.

This year marked Walmart’s 13th year of participation, he said. More than 100 Walmart drivers drove more than 40,000 miles across 40 different distribution centers in 12 states this year.

Nearly 50 million veterans have served the United States since 1776, Bickham said.

He read a quote from Ronald Reagan at the ceremony.

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction,” Bickham said. “We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

Brigadier General R. Dale Lyles, the adjutant general of the Indiana National Guard, thanked Walmart for their contributions to veterans and said their efforts were “phenomenally important.”

“The Walmart Distribution Center in Seymour, and the Walmart enterprise in general, is an important piece of our national security,” he said. “Without the supply chains, without the food, without the apparel and the other things you distribute across America we wouldn’t have the confidence we have in our country.”

Lyles said it was important to teach others the vital importance of our freedom.

“A lot of people take our freedom for granted and they shouldn’t because there are thousands and millions of people that have given their lives for this great country and we will continue to do that and continue to recognize our Gold Star families in events like this,” he said.

Locally as part of Wreaths Across America, Larry French, who lives in the Four Corners Area of Jennings County, and Mike Cardinal of Pensacola, Florida, and a former Jennings County resident, recently purchased 95 wreaths with the help of the Elsner family and several local Knights of Columbus councils.

Those wreaths were placed at St. Joseph’s, St. Mary’s and St. Ann’s cemeteries in Jennings County, St. Mary’s Cemetery in Greensburg and Riverview Cemetery in Seymour.

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