Wreaths Across America hosts largest-ever ceremony

Published 12:31 pm Thursday, December 20, 2018

From staff reports

On Dec.15, Wreaths Across America presented a program and laid almost 5,000 live evergreen wreaths on graves at Camp Nelson National Cemetery in Nicholasville.

With over more than 700 volunteers and attendees, this was the largest Wreaths Across America event to ever take place at Camp Nelson. 

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BG Benjamin Adams, Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs commissioner, was the keynote speaker and told of his experience a few years ago when he visited Arlington National Cemetery on Wreaths Across America Day. This was his first introduction to the program. 

Also speaking was U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, who highlighted the recognition of Camp Nelson Civil War Heritage Park, adjacent to the cemetery, as a National Monument  and its importance as a key emancipation site and refugee camp for African-American soldiers and their families during the Civil War.

Barr said it was one of the largest Union Army recruitment and training centers in the nation for African-American soldiers, then known as U.S. Colored Troops. 

The third speaker was Lexington’s own Corporal Matthew Bradford, USMC, who spoke to this year’s WAA theme, “Be Their Witness.” He gave a moving speech about his work with veterans who face challenges both physical and mental after their service to our country.

Bradford, who lost both legs and his vision when he stepped on an improvised explosive device in Iraq in 2006, now has as his personal motto, “No legs, no vision, no problem,” and can speak to service members and veterans from a personal perspective. 

Wreaths Across America was founded so the courage and sacrifice of our military veterans would never be forgotten.

Last Saturday was National Wreaths Across America Day all across the country, when citizens came together to remember our fallen, honor those who serve and teach younger generations the value of freedom. Those who attended helped lay remembrance wreaths on the headstones of hometown heroes and recognize their service to our nation. As each wreath was placed, the name of that military veteran was spoken aloud, to remember each one and show support for their families. 

The event at Camp Nelson was one of more than 1,500 WAA ceremonies at cemeteries across the country, each one starting at exactly the same time.  

This annual public family-friendly event seeks to further the WAA mission of remember, honor, teach and ensure the memory of those who served our country endures. Next year, WAA Day will be Saturday, Dec.14, 2019. 

All wreaths come from donations through the Wreaths Across America website.

Further donations may be made at any time and will go toward next year’s ceremony. 

For more information, contact Jo Ellen Hayden, Wreaths Across America and Camp Nelson media coordinator, joeleen01@comcast.net at or visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org