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Veterans to be remembered during wreath ceremony

  • Wreaths are being placed on all of the headstones of known veterans in the Ridgeland Cemetery as a part of the upcoming Wreaths Across America event on Dec. 16. Photos by Shellie Murdaugh/Jasper County Sun Times
  • Dave Griffiths, Retired Past Commander of the Sun City Veterans Association Color Guard, along with other members of the Color Guard, stand next to one of the many veterans headstones. All of the known veterans in the cemetery will have wreaths on their headstones as a part of the Wreaths Across America ceremony on Dec. 16 at the cemetery. Photo by Shellie Murdaugh/Jasper County Sun Times
  • Dave Griffiths, Retired Past Commander of the Sun City Veterans Association Color Guard places a wreath on one of the many veterans headstones in the Ridgeland Cemetery. There will be a Wreaths Across America ceremony on Dec. 16 at the cemetery to remember all of the veterans with wreaths on their headstones. Photo by Shellie Murdaugh/ Jasper County Sun Times
  • Wreaths are being placed on the headstones of all of the known veterans buried in the Ridgeland Cemetery for a Wreaths Across America ceremony to be held at the cemetery on Dec. 16. Photo by Shellie Murdaugh/ Jasper County Sun Times

Several members of the Sun City Veterans Association Color Guard gathered at Ridgeland Cemetery last week to discuss the upcoming Wreaths Across America event set for Dec. 16.

“It is a great privilege and honor to participate in an event like this one,” Dave Griffiths, former commander of the Sun City Veterans Association Color Guard, said. “We are honoring those who have served our county and have given their lives for our country.”

Ridgeland Cemetery is an official Wreaths Across America location and will host a wreath-laying ceremony, joining more than 1,200 other locations across the country for National Wreaths Across America Day.

The event at the cemetery starts at 9:30 a.m. with the laying of the wreaths, followed by a ceremony featuring special speakers at noon.

Shuttles from the Jasper County Courthouse to the cemetery will be available from 8:45 a.m. until 11:45 a.m. Parking will be available outside of the cemetery; inside will be closed to traffic.

“We hope we have a really good community event with a good showing,” Mary Wallace Berry, local coordinator for the Ridgeland initiative said. “We have had a lot of very positive input and the community is interested in celebrating our veterans.”

The Ridgeland volunteers have raised more than $3,000 to place about 200 wreaths on the headstones of the local fallen service members. Those working with Berry on the Wreaths Across America Committee include Steve Rountree, Paul Gill, Pam Gill, Brenda Thomas and Martin Sauls. The group worked to identify all county veterans; however, some of the headstones are unmarked, making it a challenge to locate them all, Berry said.

“This is the beginning of cataloging all of the veterans in the cemetery,” Berry said. “The entire group has worked hard to put this together, and all of their time and dedication are appreciated. We also appreciate the town for all of their help in getting the cemetery ready for the ceremony.”

The ceremony will feature Arnold Rosen, a retired U.S. Air Force (Korean War) and Sun City resident. He is the author of “Keeping Memories Alive – Our Aging Veterans Tell Their Story.”

Other honored guests will include Alan Kupfer, a Holocaust survivor; Mary Cope, who served in the United States Navy in World War II; the Sun City Veterans Association Color Guard; Ridgeland Mayor Joey Malphrus; Alvin M. Shifflett, pastor of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church; Larry Scott, pastor of Ridgeland Baptist Church and Veterans; active service members and families.

“We are very honored to have everyone participating in this ceremony, and we thank all of them,” Berry said. “This ceremony is not only for the fallen veterans, but also for those who are currently serving or have served our country. This event is held to also further the mission of Wreaths Across America, which is to remember, honor and teach, ensuring the memory of those who serve our country endures.”

Editor's note: The story has been updated with new bus shuttle time.

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