Chairman’s Message

Winter 2023

The National Park Service has long enjoyed the support of private philanthropy in performing its mission. Some of the truly special stories are of the Rockefeller family’s gifts that created both Grand Teton and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks. The Mellon family donated substantial funds to create both Cape Hatteras and Cumberland Island National Seashores. Perhaps the largest campaign in recent memory was the $350 million combined efforts of multiple corporations and individuals to restore the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

At Andersonville National Historic Site, we are fortunate to have a remarkable corporate partner in The Bennett Family of Companies. Since 2017, the Taylor Family Foundation and the Bennett Family of Companies have been a sponsor of Wreaths Across America at Andersonville National Cemetery. In 2021, we reached a remarkable goal of placing a wreath at every grave in the National Cemetery. That was 20,000 graves. Bennett trucks traveled to Maine to collect the Wreaths and bring them to Georgia. And even though Bennett did not pay for all the Wreaths, they paid for most of them. At $15 per wreath, and through a 3 for 2 sponsorship program, it takes more than $200,000 to purchase all the wreaths. Personally, I did not think that we could replicate the 2021 Wreaths Across America event. But it was in 2022.

In 2022, the leadership at Bennett reached out to another important corporation to assist. Truist Bank was asked to contribute by purchasing half of the Wreaths for Andersonville. After considering the proposal, Truist signed on with a $100,000 donation to the project. This past December 17th, over 1,000 volunteers placed roughly 20,000 Wreaths at each grave in the National Cemetery.

It was interesting to me that one of Bennett’s 12 Core Values is patriotism and is, “We love and support our country, pledge our allegiance, and honor the service and sacrifice of our military service members who defend our country and protect our freedom.” I can conceive no better way to demonstrate that core value in honoring those buried at Andersonville National Cemetery. These two public spirited companies eternally honor the sacrifices made by those buried at Andersonville National Cemetery.

Fred Boyles