FORT SMITH, Ark. — Every December since 2009, Fort Smith citizens have been invited to honor those who have sacrificed their lives for our nation at the annual Christmas Honors event.
Families, friends, and volunteers will transform the Fort Smith National Cemetery by placing a wreath on each of the 16,000 headstones in their honor.
Part of the event is a powerful ceremonial tribute to our veterans, their families, and our community by a special guest speaker.
This year, that speaker will be the University of Arkansas Fort Smith Chancellor Terisa C. Riley, Ph.D.
“As the daughter of a 10-year Navy Veteran, it brought my entire family such comfort to have a funeral with full military honors for my father," Riley said. "More importantly, my dad was a Patriot Guard rider who never missed an opportunity to honor his fellow Veterans."
"My thoughts turned to how proud my dad would be that by speaking at Christmas Honors I am carrying on his tradition of honoring Veterans and their families during their most vulnerable moments. My dad is my reason for accepting this invitation," Riley continued.
Riley will share her message during the 11 a.m. public ceremony at the pavilion at the Fort Smith National Cemetery on Dec. 3.
- 8-11 a.m. — Family Time - Please respect this time to allow the families of our heroes to lay wreaths on their loved one’s headstones.
- 11 a.m. — Public Ceremony
- 11:30 a.m. — Laying of the Wreaths.
Volunteers are needed to help unpack, fluff and organize the wreaths in preparation for the event.
From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, volunteers 9th grade and older will meet at the Fort Smith Convention Center, Hall C, to prepare the wreaths. No sign-up is required.
Officials say trucks and trailers are needed to help take the wreaths to the cemetery.
New this year:
- Christmas Honors Limited Edition Ornaments are $20 each
- "Remember our Veterans" Yard Signs are $20 each
- CH Lapel Pins are $5 each
All of these items are available to purchase at Asset Management in Barling, Arkansas Monday-Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. All proceeds will go towards the purchase of new wreaths and bows for the upcoming year.
Volunteers are also needed on Thursday, Jan. 5, to help pick up and clean the 16,000+ wreaths. Those volunteers will also meet at the Fort Smith Convention Center, Hall C, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
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