In Kearney, Liberty and Smithville at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, wreaths will be laid on graves of veterans buried in local cemeteries thanks to volunteers with the Wreaths Across America program. Wreath-layings in all three communities will include a brief ceremony. The public is welcome to attend.

What Wreaths

Across America does

On National Wreaths Across America Day, this year Dec. 18, Wreaths Across America, a national charitable organization celebrates its mission to remember, honor and teach communities about the service and sacrifice of local veterans by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery and in more than 2,500 additional locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea and abroad.

“From the Revolutionary War to present day conflicts, our veterans are devoted sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers. They come from all backgrounds in life to place those lives on the line for our freedoms,” states the organization’s website.

In Kearney, Masonic Lodge No. 311 will lay wreaths on graves of 325 veterans in Mt. Olivet and Fairview cemeteries.

“Please help us honor and remember many fallen heroes. … We will be joined by the Kearney mayor, city aldermen, Kearney’s city administrator, police chief, fire chief, Kearney Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary Post No. 5717, Boys Scouts and veterans,” states a release about the Kearney event.

Liberty City Councilman Jeff Watt, a veteran himself, has led the charge for Wreaths Across America for years in Liberty. He coordinates volunteers to place wreaths, purchased by donors for $15 each, on graves in Fairview and New Hope cemeteries. There are roughly 1,000 veterans buried in the cemetery and the local Wreaths program funds enough for about half of the veterans’ graves.

In Smithville, program efforts are spearheaded by Smithville Memorial Cemetery Committee leader Barbara Lamb. There, wreaths are laid on about 375 veterans’ graves in Smithville Memorial Cemetery.

“Thanks to the generosity of the people here, we’ve been able to meet our goal and cover all of the graves,” she said.

Goals for programs

Both Watt and Lamb would love to see each community’s Wreaths program grow. For Watt, he would like to see enough wreaths sponsored annually to cover all of the veterans’ graves in Fairview/New Hope as well as add wreaths in Glenridge Cemetery and Mt. Memorial on the William Jewell campus.

Lamb currently works with donors to secure wreaths for individuals to place in other cemeteries that do not have organized Wreaths programs, an effort she would like to expand.

“We do have some other small cemeteries around here and I have thought about expanding. Because they are so small though, … I don’t even know how many veterans are buried in them,” she said.

How to help

To donate funds for next year’s wreath-laying events or to volunteer, those in Kearney can contact Michael Breder by phone at (410) 231-4115 or email at m_breder@hotmail.com or Dale Ahle by phone at 935-1842.

Those wishing to purchase a wreath for Smithville can contact Barbara Lamb at 805-2290. Those wishing to donate to a specific veteran can include that information with their donation.

In Liberty and Smithville, donors and volunteers can also visit the Wreaths Across America Liberty and Smithville Memorial Cemetery Facebook pages. In Liberty, those seeking to help can also contact Watt via email at

Watt4council@gmail.com.

Managing Editor Amanda Lubinski can be reached at amanda.lubinski@mycouriertribune.com or 903-6001.

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