Seven wreaths will be placed at Newnan's Veterans Plaza Saturday

By W. WINSTON SKINNER winston@newnan.com Coweta area veterans will be participating in the Wreaths Across America program on Saturday -- placing wreaths at Veterans Memorial Plaza. Local veteran Dick Stender said American Legion Post 57, Veterans of Foreigns Wars Post 2667, the local AMVETS and representatives of the Daughters of the American Revolution and Sons of the American Revolution will be participating in the program.
"Our program will begin at noon and last only about 30 minutes," Stender said. Veterans Memorial Plaza is located in the city park at Jackson Street and Temple Avenue -- just north of downtown Newnan. The Newnan group was given seven wreaths. Wreaths are being placed at patriotic locations across the country. Stender said there will be thousands of wreaths for the biggest observance at Arlington National Cemetery. Wreaths Across America is a non-profit organization with headquarters in Harrington, Maine. The wreath project was formed as an extension of the Arlington Wreath Project. The Arlington Wreath program was started by Morrill Worcester, a Maine resident who owned a company that made wreaths, in 1992 with the donation and laying of 5,000 Christmas wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery. This became an annual journey for Worcester, but the project remained low-key -- and relatively obscure -- until 2005. That year, images of the simple grave markers at Arlington adorned with wreaths and covered in snow circulated around the Internet. The project received national attention, and thousands of requests came from all over the country from people wanting to emulate the Arlington project in their communities. In 2006 -- with the help of the Civil Air Patrol and other civic organizations -- more than 150 locations held wreath laying ceremonies simultaneously. By 2008, more than 300 locations were holding wreath laying ceremonies. There were Wreaths Across America ceremonies last year in every state, in Puerto Rico and in 24 overseas cemeteries. More than 100,000 wreaths were placed on veterans' graves, and 60,000-plus volunteers participated. By last year -- the first year for a Coweta observance -- there were some 400 places across the country taking part. The wreath laying is now held annually on the second Saturday of December. Congress has officially proclaimed it Wreaths Across America Day. In 2009, wreaths were to be placed in all 50 states, from Maine to Alaska and Hawaii, several locations in Iraq and at 24 national cemeteries on foreign soil. Ceremonies are set at more than 500 locations on Saturday. A special effort is being made this year to place wreaths on each grave in Section 60 at Arlington. Many military personnel killed in Iraq or Afghanistan are buried there. After the wreath ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington on Saturday, WAA will hold a wreath ceremony at the Pentagon to those killed on Sept 11, 2001. There will then be a return to Arlington for a ceremony at the Woman's Memorial. Late Saturday afternoon plans are in place to have wreath ceremonies at the Vietnam War Memorial, the Korean War Memorial and at sunset the World War II Memorial in Washington. The procession of wreaths from Maine to Arlington has also become a tradition with the Patriot Guard Riders and other volunteers traveling along with the tractor-trailer transporting the wreaths. Individuals and organizations can provide wreath sponsorships for $15 and up. Information is available at www.WreathsAcrossAmerica.org . Donations may be sent to: Wreaths Across America, P.O. Box 256, Harrington, ME 04643.


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