2022 Wreaths Across America at Andersonville
For a second year in a row in 2022, the Wreaths Across America event at Andersonville National Cemetery were able to place a wreath at each of the 20,300 graves. This remarkable accomplishment was a part of the nation-wide event to place holiday wreaths on graves of veterans at National, State and private Cemeteries on Saturday December 17th. At Andersonville National Cemetery, a ceremony was held at noon to highlight the significance of the event, followed by volunteers placing wreaths at each grave.
Over 1700 volunteers came to place wreaths. They comprised youth groups, civic clubs, veterans’ organizations and family members of those buried at Andersonville that assisted in a task that could have only been possible with the help of many hands.
A ceremony at the Cemetery Rostrum opened off the event. The service paid tribute to three veterans who interned in the Cemetery in 2022. They were Coast Guard Boatswains Mate Second Class Carl Israel, Army Staff Sergeant Grover Rogers and Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Vernon Phillips. All three veterans were represented at the ceremony by their family members as their military service accomplishments were shared with the audience. An honor guard presented wreaths for each of the service branches.
Two companies made the event possible. The Bennett Family of Companies, a McDonough, Georgia based transportation and logistics company, provided nearly half the funding to purchase wreaths for the event. They were joined this year by their banking partner, Truist Bank with a $100,000 gift to purchase the rest of the wreaths. Bennett also provided five trucks that traveled to Maine to transport the wreaths to Andersonville. They had adorned all the trucks with images and messages about the Wreaths Across America project so they could share that message as they traveled. “We were honored that Truist joined with us in making this event possible,” stated Lee Gentry, Executive Vice President of the Bennett Family of Companies. “Bennett supports Andersonville’s Wreaths event because patriotism is one of our company’s core values. And those are not just words, they are engrained is everything we do,” Gentry added.
During the ceremony, Bennett Family of Companies’ President, David Pittman urged each of the volunteers to not get in a hurry placing the Wreaths. He told all those assembled, “Every wreath is a teaching moment, when you place the wreath, straighten the bow, step back, pause and say the name out loud on the stone.” During the afternoon, volunteers could be seen reading the names and saluting. The mission of Wreaths Across America is to Remember our fallen U.S. veterans, Honor those who serve and Teach your children the value of freedom.
“The National Park Service is deeply grateful to the generosity of the Bennett Family of Companies and Truist Bank for their support of this remarkable event,” stated Gia Wagner, Superintendent of Andersonville National Historic Site, “These two companies are the catalyst that brings together funding and volunteer support to honor the memory of those veterans and their families buried in this hallowed place.”