PHENIX CITY, Ala. (WRBL) – Volunteers gathered at Fort Mitchell National Cemetery for National Wreaths Across America Day on Dec. 18, 2021. They placed over 6,000 wreaths on veterans graves as a way to honor them before the upcoming holiday.

Karrie Schwerin, a volunteer with Wreaths Across America, said she has been participating National Wreaths Across America Day at Fort Mitchell for about six years.

“I mean how else do you honor them. The big thing is say their name and that’s what we try to tell everybody out here because they say you die twice. Once when your name is said the last time so you always say their name, they’re always in your heart and they’re always still with you,” said Schwerin.

She said her favorite part of the event is seeing people come together to honor the veterans regardless of their backgrounds.

Schwerin said she hopes for more business involvement next year so they can place a wreath on all 11,000 graves.

Jana Walrath is a volunteer who placed a wreath on her grandfather, Charles Scott Walrath, grave. He served in both the Vietnam and Korean wars.

“It symbolizes Christmas for the fallen troops who we cannot celebrate with in person so this is just a symbolization to Christmas,” said Walrath.

Schwerin decided to get more youth involved about two years ago and had young adults unloading the trucks containing the wreaths and laying the wreaths on the grave.

Eddie Williams is a volunteer from Russell County High School and a JROTC cadet. He said he has multiple family members that are veterans and it was an honor to honor the fallen soldiers.

“It means a lot to me because I would want someone to do the same for me if I was a veteran,” said Williams.

Wreaths Across America began a challenge on Dec. 18, 2021 that will last until Jan. 14, 2022 where they will be matching the donations in an attempt to cover all 11,000 graves next year.

To donate to Wreaths Across America- Fort Mitchell, please visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org and click on Fort Mitchell under locations.