"Wreaths Across America" brings more than 1,400 wreaths to Lynchburg's Old City Cemetery

By Rob Manch - Reporter

LYNCHBURG (WSLS 10) - The Old City Cemetery in Lynchburg participated in the "Wreaths Across America" program Saturday for the 9th year in a row. The program takes donations from the community to place a Christmas wreath on the graves of veterans.

Each wreath is provided by an individual donation of 15 dollars from someone in the community. This year, the Old City Cemetery saw more than 1,400 of those wreaths purchased, and hundreds more volunteered to lay them out Saturday and pay their respects.

Civil War reenactor Kevin Shroyer says he's honoring a Confederate soldier in Virginia's 11th Regiment.

"Whitfield Johnson, we marked his grave with that plaque a few years ago and he was only 18 years old and he was from Fincastle, company D, they were called the Fincastle Rifles," said Shroyer.

Shroyer says for graves like those, some of them hundreds of years old, the tradition is more important than ever.

"We want their graves to be marked so that people actually know who they are, not just initials on a stone," said Shroyer.

In addition to marking graves, seven wreaths were placed to represent the branches of the military, and soldiers missing in action. Purple Heart Commander Gary Witt says this time of year, people often need that reminder to reflect.

"We tend to just go on and celebrate Christmas or other holidays, just take them for granted, and not realizing that we have some family members that are not there because they gave the ultimate sacrifice, and we need to keep that in mind," said Witt.

Cemetery Director Ted Delaney says this year, more people are keeping veterans in mind Lynchburg, with a record number of donations.

"That's enabled us to mark more graves than ever. We would need 24 hundred to mark every veteran here, so to get that much closer is great," said Delaney.

Shroyer says, as the tradition passes to a new generation, he hopes it continues to grow.

"It's just important to remember them. They served and they sacrificed and we should remember that," said Shroyer.

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