Tri-City veterans who have passed on will not be forgotten this holiday season.
The Wreaths Across America program will come to Desert Lawn Memorial Park in Kennewick, as well as Sunset Memorial Gardens in Richland, for the first time on Dec. 12.
Amy Coffman with Mueller’s Tri-Cities Funeral Home said the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Kennewick chapter contacted her earlier this year and asked if the Desert Lawn, where 2,783 veterans are buried, could be a location for the event, which takes place in all 50 states at more than 1,000 locations.
Coffman jumped at the chance.
“I had seen other cemeteries in the state doing it,” she said. “It seemed really neat and I wanted to be involved, but I didn’t know how to before.”
The Daughters of the American Revolution felt it was important to honor Tri-City veterans, said Karen Schultz, vice regent for the Kennewick chapter. Wreaths were delivered Wednesday to Desert Lawn.
“I’ve watched the videos online, and I’ve talked to people who have taken part,” Schultz said. “I think it’s a wonderful thing and we wanted to be a part of it.”
The event is also designed to honor the families of veterans.
“The holidays are always difficult when you’ve lost someone,” Schultz said. “We want to make it so people can come together and show support for each other, as well as show patriotism and appreciation for all our veterans and their families.”
Mueller’s and the Daughters of the American Revolution raised money through sponsorships to provide wreaths for 513 graves at Desert Lawn, topping their goal of 500. They worked with Texas Roadhouse to sell the restaurant’s peanuts as a fundraiser. Texas Roadhouse also had nights where a portion of its sales went to Wreaths Across America.
They would like to have enough wreaths in future years to eventually place one on every veteran’s grave in the cemetery, Schultz said.
The holidays are always difficult when you’ve lost someone. We want to make it so people can come together and show support for each other, as well as show patriotism and appreciation for all our veterans and their families.
Karen Schultz, vice regent for the Kennewick chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution
The event begins with a 9 a.m. ceremony inside at Mueller’s chapel, located at 1401 S. Union Street. Kennewick Mayor Steve Young is among those scheduled to speak. Kennewick Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5785 will provide formal military honors.
All the national events are scheduled to start at the same time, to align with the placing of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery at noon Eastern time, Coffman said.
Volunteers will walk over to Desert Lawn and place the wreaths on the graves after the hour-long ceremony, Coffman said. They will attach them to the ground using stakes to prevent them from blowing away in the December wind.
Among those taking part will be the VFW Women’s Auxiliary, the Patriot Guard Riders, the Navy Sea Cadets, the Kennewick High School Air Force ROTC and several Cub Scout packs, Coffman said.
“The ideal is to have one person for every wreath,” she said.
Volunteers are still welcome. They now have between 50 and 100, but will need many more than that to meet that goal, Coffman said.
Grave-specific requests for people who want to place a wreath on one of their own friend’s or family member’s marker have filled up for this year. Call Schultz at 206-817-3494 for information.
Sunset Memorial Gardens, 915 Bypass Highway in Richland, also will have its first wreath-laying ceremony at 9 a.m. Dec. 12 in the Veterans Garden at the north end of its property, said organizer Stephen Mulder, with Einan’s at Sunset.
It also will place a wreath on a Civil War veteran’s grave at Resthaven Cemetery, 700 Williams Blvd. in Richland, which Einan’s also owns, later in the day.
Several dozen wreaths will be placed at Sunset, where an estimated 3,000 veterans are buried, Mulder said. The cemetery was asked to take part at the last minute.