Wreaths Across America coming to Seymour

Wreaths Across America coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies at more than 2,500 locations across the United States, at sea and around the world.

This year, that will include Seymour.

At noon Dec. 17 at Riverview Cemetery, 1603 Shields Ave., a dedication service will be conducted to remember and honor veterans who lost their lives in service to the country, and then wreaths adorned with red bows will be placed on their graves.

From now until Nov. 15, wreaths may be purchased as a fundraiser for the Fort Vallonia Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution. The sponsorship levels are individual, one wreath, $15; family, five wreaths, $75; small business, 10 wreaths, $150; and corporate, 100 wreaths, $1,500.

“There are three things that Wreaths Across America focuses on: To remember, to learn and to teach,” said Kathy Douglass, a member of the Fort Vallonia DAR. “I think those go along, too, with the DAR. We want to remember those veterans that served, for us especially in the Revolutionary War. That’s where our tie is.”

The learn and teach aspects will come through the awareness shared during the dedication service.

“You do it on Veterans Day, Memorial Day. You hear about that, but we think about it all the time as members of this organization, so we’re just trying to encourage others,” said Diana Ray, regent for the Fort Vallonia DAR.

“I think that’s being lost in our younger generation,” Douglass added. “I think it’s important for the kids to learn about the sacrifices that these people made, and we also remember the ones that are still living, the sacrifice that they made. Everyone has a story, and it’s so interesting to hear all of these stories from these veterans, and as time is going on, we’re losing that.”

This is the second year for the Fort Vallonia DAR to participate in Wreaths Across America. Last year, it was done at a cemetery in North Vernon with Ray living in that Jennings County city.

Douglass participated in Wreaths Across America when she was a member of a DAR chapter in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and when she moved to Seymour, she wanted to see it started locally.

“We’ve just been trying to do some other things to maintain the health of our chapter, and we haven’t done a lot of outreach things, so she said, ‘I’ve done it before. We should do it,’” Ray said of a past conversation with Douglass.

“I knew about the program, it’s a wonderful program and that’s what we’re all about is veterans and also active military,” Douglass said.

Once Douglass became familiar with cemeteries in the area, she knew they needed to do it at Riverview this year. Ray reached out to the cemetery’s operations manager, Frank Cottey, and he shared the idea with the board. Several months later, it was approved.

Since then, Ray and Douglass have worked to get the word out about the program so people know it’s going to be done in Seymour.

Wreaths Across America started in 2008. More than 300 locations held wreath-laying ceremonies in every state, Puerto Rico and 24 overseas cemeteries, and 100,000-plus wreaths were placed by more than 60,000 volunteers. Congress unanimously voted to create Wreaths Across America Day.

That’s still conducted annually on the second or third Saturday of December.

People can participate by sponsoring a wreath to honor or remember a veteran or attend a wreath-laying ceremony. By sponsoring a wreath locally, it’s helping support the work of the Fort Vallonia DAR.

That includes leading veterans programs, collecting items for veterans, partnering with Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Inc. to provide books to Vietnam War veterans in Indiana, presenting a Quilt of Valor to veterans and sending care packages to active military members. Also, in 2023, the local DAR is rolling out a veterans banner program in Jackson County communities.

The wreaths will remain on the graves at Riverview through February.

How to participate 

Sponsor a wreath by filling out an online form at wreathsacrossamerica.org/IN0147P.

The sponsorship levels are individual, one wreath, $15; family, five wreaths, $75; small business, 10 wreaths, $150; and corporate, 100 wreaths, $1,500.

Sponsorships also may be mailed to WAA Project Fort Vallonia DAR, c/o 1983 Austin James Lane, Seymour, IN 47274. Be sure to include name, address, phone number, email address and type of sponsorship. Make checks payable to Wreaths Across America.

On the website, people also can sign up to volunteer with the Wreaths Across America program at Riverview Cemetery in Seymour. It’s set for noon Dec. 17.