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Wreaths Across America to adorn graves of 3,000 vets

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Donations being accepted

By Sarah Bennett

Volunteers plan to place 3,000 wreaths on the graves of veterans this holiday season in Radcliff.

The Kentucky Patriots are collecting donations for Wreaths Across America — a nonprofit founded in 2007 to continue and expand the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

This year will mark the fifth ceremony held at Kentucky Veterans Cemetery-Central in Radcliff. The program is set for Saturday, Dec. 14.

Chairwoman Donna Betson said the wreath laying is a “magnificent sight” to behold as volunteers or family members mark each veteran’s grave.

“It’s almost overwhelming in the beauty,” Betson said. “I think it moves me to tears every year.”

As of Wednesday, the Radcliff cemetery reported 3,050 burials. That number includes veterans and dependents.

The cemetery averages about 500 burials per year, and according to the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, it is the busiest of the commonwealth’s four veterans cemeteries.

According to Betson, between 300 and 400 volunteers participated in last year’s program, and participants will wait to allow family members the first opportunity to lay a wreath upon loved ones’ graves.

“The family members have the first opportunity,” Betson said.

Preceding the wreath laying is a short ceremony, she said, which will include a prayer and a short address from a Fort Knox official. Ceremonial wreaths also will be laid for each military branch.

Each wreath costs $15, and for every two wreaths purchased, the third is free, according to a news release.

Betson said the goal is to place 3,000 wreaths this year. During the first year of the program, volunteers laid 1,000.

For more information or to make a donation, contact Donna Betson at 270-877-7066.

Sarah Bennett can be reached at 270-505-1750 or sbennett@thenewsenterprise.com.