Blue Star Mothers putting wreaths on all 5,500 graves at Grand Rapids Veterans Cemetery

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- In just a few weeks, tens of thousands of evergreen wreaths will be laid on the graves of veterans across the country as part of Wreaths Across America.

Here in West Michigan, the local chapter of the Blue Star Mothers has accomplished something special for this year's event.  The veterans will be honored Dec. 16 at the Grand Rapids Veterans Cemetery, and this year they will have enough wreaths for every single grave.

"It's not about decorations. It's not about remembering their death, but their life," said Jan Vanderwal with the Blue Star Mothers of Ottawa and Kent County.

Grand Rapids is just a link in a long chain of cemeteries participating in Wreaths Across America.

"There are 5,500 graves here, and that was our mission to fill the cemeteries with wreaths," Vanderwal said.

Filling the entire cemetery is a rare accomplishment.

"We are the second cemetery to be filled other than Arlington," Vanderwal said.

The evergreen wreaths come from Maine, and each has a special way of paying tribute.

"And each wreath is made with a word behind it like 'honor' and 'integrity,'" Vanderwal said.

The Blue Star Mothers are asking for the public's help to lay wreaths.

"With 5,500 wreaths we're going to need a lot of help," Vanderwal said.

The wreath laying ceremony in Grand Rapids is Dec. 16 beginning at 11:15 a.m., with the wreaths being put down at noon.

For more information on how to help you can visit Wreaths Across America website or visit the Blue Star Mothers Facebook page. 

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