FORT SMITH, Ark. — Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Christmas Honors previously announced that the traditional December laying of the wreaths at the Fort Smith National Cemetery had to be canceled.
Since the announcement, alternative plans have been made.
In partnership with Chaffee Crossing, Christmas Honors is hosting a tribute display consisting of over 18,000 names of every veteran buried at the Fort Smith National Cemetery.
The Christmas Honors Tribute at Chaffee Crossing exhibit will open on Dec. 5 at 10 a.m. and remain on display through Dec. 28.
Located at 7300 Buckhorn St., the 1,200 ft one-way drive will pay tribute to all who have served. The drive-thru display will allow for families to pay respect without the risk of crowds.
It also gives the community the opportunity to view the display for the month of December at their leisure as they could do during the traditional month of December at the Fort Smith National Cemetery.
Fort Chaffee Executive Director and CEO Daniel Mann says the Christmas Honors Tribute collaboration provided Chaffee Crossing an opportunity to show appreciation for veterans that is usually expressed through the annual Regional Veterans Day Parade at Chaffee Crossing.
“It was a very difficult decision to cancel the Veterans Day Parade this year, so we jumped at the chance to honor veterans with this tribute display," Mann said. "We are committed to thanking veterans for all they sacrificed to protect us and preserve our freedoms. This year it may look a little different, but our sincerity is just as genuine.”
Christmas Honors’ Chairman, Philip H. Merry, Jr. expressed his gratitude for the support by local organizations, businesses, and citizens to ensure that our veterans are honored this December.
“The COVID-19 pandemic shall not cease our on-going tribute to, and remembrance of our heroes buried at the Fort Smith National Cemetery," he said. "Our veterans will never be forgotten. We’ll never be able to thank them adequately, but we can keep trying.”
As always, families are welcome to visit their loved ones at the Fort Smith National Cemetery at any time. For up-to-date COVID guidelines, you can visit https://www.cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/ftsmith.asp.
Christmas Honors expects to resume the traditional event in 2021.
For more information, visit ChristmasHonors.org.