A local Girl Scout troop spent time during the holidays to honor some of Tullahoma’s deceased veterans by placing a wreath at their graves during the annual Wreaths Across America event.

Girl Scout Troop 2163 hosted a Wreaths Across America at Maplewood Cemetery on Sunday, Dec. 19, instead of the traditional Saturday, due to inclement weather in the area at the time. The troop was joined by representatives of the different branches of the U.S. military including Maj. Gen. Alan Harris, U.S. Army and National Guard; Sgt. Curtic Hice, U.S. Marines; Cmdr. Frank Wonder, U.S. Navy; Col. Beverly Lee, U.S. Air Force; Cpl. Sidney Wing, U.S. Army and Ofc. Robert Hayes, U.S. Air Force.

Wreaths Across America is an annual tradition that seeks to honor those who served in the nation’s armed forces. The event was founded in 1992 by Maine native Morrill Worcester and his wife, Karen. The tribute originally took place only in Arlington National Cemetery but grew in the 2000s to take place in cemeteries across the country. The wreath-laying ceremony traditionally takes place on the second or third Saturday in December, depending on when local sponsor groups want to coordinate their events.

According to Troop Leader Greg Gressel, the troop has been trying to for years to become part of the program via making contact with the national organization. It wasn’t until 2020 when Gressel read the information from an article from The News and made contact with Coffee County Wreaths Across America spokesman Claude Morse. He said after the troop helped with the ceremony at Oakwood Cemetery in 2020 they immediately began working on a ceremony for Maplewood Cemetery.

Gressel thanked everyone in the community who not only took time out to honor those who fought for their freedoms but those who helped the troop with honoring about 300 veterans at Maplewood Cemetery like Tullahoma DAR Chapter, GFWC Centennial Woman's Club and American Legion Post 43 in Tullahoma.

“Many individuals gave and helped get a huge start on securing the wreaths for the new cemetery,” Gressel said.

Gressel said he is currently raising money to secure wreaths for next year’s event. From now until Jan. 10, 2022, any donation made towards any cemetery or group organizing Wreaths Across America events will receive a matching donor dollar-for-dollar from the organization.

“We are fortunate to have such great support in our community and it’s been our desire to honor as many veterans as possible, as often as possible,” Gressel said.

For more about how to donate, contact Gressel via email at Chairman@southjackson.org or call at 455-5321.