The annual Wreaths Across America event at Kentucky Veterans Cemetery-Central in Radcliff will undergo changes this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Donna Betson, chairwoman, has been helping put together the annual event at the cemetery for the past 11 years.

On the day of, there is a ceremony which includes speeches from key individuals, a performance of the song “Amazing Grace” and then a laying of the ceremonial wreath.

This kicks off the wreath laying en masse to more than 7,000 graves. Betson said there usually are between 400 to 500 volunteers laying out wreaths, including church members, scouts and people representing civic organizations and veterans groups.

She said thousands of wreaths are dispersed throughout the ceremony in about 15 to 20 minutes.

Chuck Heater, director of Kentucky Veterans Cemetery-Central, said on a normal Wreaths Across America event day, traffic would be backed up far down Dixie Boulevard.

He said these events really bring families together especially during Christmas time, and is really for the families to honor their loved ones during the holidays.

“Everyone that’s coming out there, either has a family member or a friend or ... someone from their group that’s buried out there,” Betson said.

This year, Betson said she’s disappointed in that they will not be able to have the formal ceremony to comply with guidance from the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs.

Starting Dec. 18, families will be able to lay wreaths down for their loved ones until noon Dec. 19. The rest of the wreaths will then be laid out by volunteers and staff.

At first, Betson said there wasn’t going to be any wreath-laying among volunteers, but this was negotiated.

Kevin Bowman, who is responsible for the Fort Knox Post Cemetery, said on Friday that they haven’t made any decisions, and still will have their Wreaths Across America event on Dec. 19, while still adhering to social distancing and masking guidelines.

Andrew Harp can be reached at 270-505-1747 or aharp@thenewsenterprise.com.

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