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Community embraces wreath-laying ceremony at local veterans cemetery

News Enterprise - 12/14/2017

As wreaths are laid Saturday at veterans cemeteries across the country, community volunteers will gather at Kentucky Veterans Cemetery-Central in Radcliff to remember, honor and teach.

The event begins at 10 a.m. with a short ceremony before wreaths are placed on the more than 5,000 graves in the cemetery, said Donna Betson, local organizer for Wreaths Across America.

Families are given time to take their wreaths to loved ones' graves before volunteers cover the hillside to place evergreen tributes on each grave marker, she said.

Earlier in the year, Betson was concerned about funding because one of her major fundraising methods, bucket brigades collecting from motorists, was discontinued in Elizabethtown because of a safety concern. The community, however, came together and made up the difference, she said, including some individuals and organizations doubling their donations to make sure there was a wreath for every grave this season.

Betson said she was amazed by the phone calls and donations received, with some supporters going back to their organizations such as churches, Scout troops and veterans groups, asking them to give more.

"I think that's why it's such an impact ? it is the community," she said.

Betson said the community has taken ownership of the event and she is grateful to everyone, whether they gave $25 or $1,500.

The wreath-laying is a recognition to the veterans, Betson said. It also serves as a teaching moment for younger generations and an opportunity to remember sacrifices made by the military.

Each headstone represents a person who was someone's son or daughter, mother or father, grandfather or grandmother, she said.

The sight of a veterans cemetery filled with wreaths can be moving, she said.

"It's an absolutely amazing sight and brings me to tears every year," said Betson, who has coordinated the effort for nine years.

Kentucky Veterans Cemetery-Central is at 2501 N. Dixie Blvd. in Radcliff, south of the main post gate at Fort Knox.

Anyone in the community can attend to lay the wreaths.


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