On the Record with Kathy Smith

SYCAMORE – To honor veterans for Christmas this year, Kathy Smith is organizing a Wreaths Across America wreath-laying ceremony at Ohio Grove Cemetery in Sycamore.

Wreaths Across America’s mission is to “Remember, Honor, Teach,” by placing wreaths on veterans’ graves for the holiday season.

National Wreaths Across America Day is Dec. 18 this year. The organization holds a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as at more than 2,500 locations in all 50 states, at sea and abroad.

A wreath-laying ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. Dec. 18 at Ohio Grove Cemetery on Barber Greene Road in Sycamore. Smith’s goal is to sponsor enough wreaths for all 72 veterans buried there.

Sponsorship for one wreath costs $15, two wreaths $30, five wreaths $75 and 10 wreaths $150. Sponsors can choose to sponsor a wreath in honor of or in memory of someone, and they can choose a specific grave to place a wreath.

Volunteers also can register to participate in the ceremony on Dec. 18.

To sponsor a wreath, register to volunteer or for more information, visit wreathsacrossamerica.org. The deadline to sponsor a wreath is Dec. 1.

MidWeek reporter Katrina Milton spoke to Smith about Wreaths Across America and why she chose to sponsor the ceremony at Ohio Grove Cemetery.

Milton: How did you get the idea for laying wreaths at a cemetery?

Smith: I am a member of the Gen. John Stark Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. With DAR, I am the volunteer coordinator for Ohio Grove Cemetery. Every year, DAR makes sure veterans are not forgotten by sponsoring wreaths and holding wreath-laying ceremonies through Wreaths Across America at local cemeteries. We also lay wreaths at Rock Island National Cemetery in Rock Island and Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood.

Milton: What are some statistics about Wreaths Across America?

Smith: Last year, Wreaths Across America placed 1.7 million wreaths across the country, with more than 267,000 at Arlington National Cemetery alone. There was more than a million volunteers at more than 2,500 cemeteries.

Milton: What year did you start laying wreaths at Ohio Grove Cemetery?

Smith: Last year was our first year placing wreaths at Ohio Grove Cemetery. I wanted to help decorate the local cemetery, and when I asked other members of DAR, they said it was a great idea if I could coordinate that. The goal is to not only remember veterans and honor them at Christmastime, but to teach the young. The ceremony is a community event, and everyone can attend.

Milton: Tell me more about this year’s ceremony.

Smith: This year, we will hold a wreath placing ceremony on Dec. 18. There are 72 veterans buried in Ohio Grove Cemetery in Sycamore, and I hope to have a wreath for each one. There are veterans from many different wars, including the War of 1812, the Civil War, as well as World War I and World War II.

Milton: How can someone sponsor a wreath?

Smith: The cost to sponsor a wreath is $15 per wreath. They are really nice, live wreaths with a red bow. You can order them online through Wreath Across America’s website. You can even sponsor a wreath in honor of a loved one or choose a specific veteran to sponsor. If we have extra wreaths, we might place more at the cemetery or look into sponsoring other cemeteries locally. Wreaths must be ordered online by Dec. 1.

Katrina Milton

Katrina J.E. Milton

Award-winning reporter and photographer for Shaw Media publications, including The Daily Chronicle and The MidWeek newspapers in DeKalb County, Illinois, since 2012.