FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – Thousands of graves at the Florence National Cemetery won’t be marked this year for the “Wreaths Across America” program because of a lack of funds.
Each December non-profit organizations fill the Florence National Cemetery to place wreaths on thousands of headstones for the “Wreaths Across America”.
Wayne Kenney retired from the Navy 23 years ago and is now the Wreaths Across America coordinator. He’s attended the program since it started.
Kenney tells News 13 last year was the biggest year so far for the program in Florence.
“We had a little over 4,800 wreaths placed last year. This year with the flood that happened, that took a big hit,” Kenney said.
Sponsors from across the Pee Dee and Grand Stand noticed the shortage of donations too.
“Most of them felt really bad about not being able to meet the quota that they did last year,” explained Florence National Cemetery Director Carolyn Howard.
The Blue Star Mothers of Coastal Carolina and Rolling Thunder Chapter 4 are two sponsors that work each year to keep the program funded.
“I didn’t want to put additional pressure on the public and on the community to try to spend money on other wreaths this year,” mentioned Howard.
So with nearly two thousand wreaths less than expected this year, some say the circumstance is a way to improve the program.
“It’ll pick back up again. It will. I’m sure it will,” said Kenney.
Organizers say their duty is to make sure that every fallen soldier is remembered.
“We have both this section of the cemetery and the new section of the cemetery. But we make sure that wreaths are placed in both areas so that no one is forgotten,” mentioned Kenney.
Non-profit organizations ended fundraising for this year, but already started collecting for next year’s event.
The “Wreaths Across America” ceremony will be held Saturday at the Florence National Cemetery at noon.