Hundreds gather for annual wreath-laying ceremony in Dublin

Published: Dec. 18, 2021 at 7:17 PM EST
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DUBLIN, Va. (WDBJ) - “I just ask, as you place that wreath, think about what the names on each headstone represent,” said guest speaker John Maxwell, with the Virginia Department of Veterans’ Services.

Around 500 veterans, family and friends gathered at the Southwest Virginia Veterans Cemetery Saturday for one reason: to honor our veterans.

“I’ve got several family members here, I’ve got post members here, we just laid one to rest this weekend,” said Stephen Kelley, a member of the American Legion Post 20, who has family and post members buried at SWVAVC.

“We have my uncle, which is her husband and their father and grandfather. My father is here. My stepfather has a brother who’s here and he served in the military,” said Vicki O’Donnell, surrounded by her family.

Fellow veterans, family and friends laid 1600 wreaths Saturday. Time was taken for each one to honor and remember each person.

“It’s an honor and a privilege. Of course you miss your loved ones just being here,” said Kelley.

“It’s a sentimental thing to do because you’re remembering a family member but you’re also honoring their service,” said O’Donnell.

The 9th annual wreath-laying wouldn’t be possible without the Southwest Virginia Veterans Cemetery Volunteers - it especially hits home each year for the group’s chairman, Mary Lou Summers.

Summers’ husband is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

“As I watch them lay their wreaths, I know how they feel. Because I know how I’d feel if was up there, and I know that somebody else today has laid a wreath on his gravesite and that’s one of the reasons I believe in what I’m doing.”

A small tribute, to make sure no veteran is ever forgotten.

“They’re will still be somebody else here that will say their name, lay a wreath on their gravesite and that to me is the most important thing.”

For more information on the SWVAVCS, you can find its website here.

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