THE DAILY LEADER / JUSTIN VICORY / At the end of the Wreaths Across America ceremony Thursday at the local Military Memorial Museum, each attendee was encouraged to "put hands" on the wreaths. Ward Four Alderman Shirley Estes (center) passes a wreath to Walmart representative Marshall Williams (left).
THE DAILY LEADER / JUSTIN VICORY / At the end of the Wreaths Across America ceremony Thursday at the local Military Memorial Museum, each attendee was encouraged to "put hands" on the wreaths. Ward Four Alderman Shirley Estes (center) passes a wreath to Walmart representative Marshall Williams (left).

Wreaths Across America event honors veterans

Published 11:23am Friday, December 13, 2013

Honoring the sacrifices of veterans all across the nation, city officials and volunteers for Wreaths across America convened for a ceremony at the Lincoln County Military Museum in Brookhaven Thursday.

The ceremony represented a special event for local veterans and was the prelude to a national Wreaths across America event that is meant to honor the sacrifice of veterans in all 50 states.

The Wreaths Across America organization is delivering wreaths this month to military cemeteries across the country including Arlington National Cemetery.

Thursday’s ceremony at the local museum represented a relay point for the in-transit wreaths, where trucks provided by Walmart convened in Brookhaven before setting off for Houston.

“Only 30 cities in the country are chosen to be relay points for the Wreaths across America ceremony. It’s an honor that Brookhaven was chosen this year,” remarked state Rep. Becky Currie of Brookhaven. Currie, who briefly spoke at the ceremony Thursday, praised the sacrifice of currently serving community members.

“At events like these, I think about what America would be like were it not for the sacrifice of so many. I wonder how different our lives would be.”

David Simmons, fleet safety manager at Walmart Distribution, has been participating in the wreaths ceremony for five years now. He has worked at Walmart Distribution for close to 27 years.

Simmons was the key organizer and speaker at Thursday’s ceremony. Simmons praised the sacrifice of Brookhaven veteran, 1st Lt. Danny Day Entrican, who was missing in action after his heroic efforts to save his fellow soldiers during fighting in Vietnam. Months later, soldiers received word that Entrican was alive and transported to North Vietnam as a POW. No further word was ever heard from Entrican.

On Thursday, Simmons presented a wreath in honor of Entrican. Alderman at Large Karen Sullivan and Ward Four Alderman Shirley Estes participated in the ceremony, where all event attendees “put hands” on the wreath.

“We want this wreath to represent a commitment to never forget the efforts of 1st Lt. Entrican or anyone other fallen soldier,” Simmons said.

Army Col. Phillip Parker spoke next and praised the service of the organization. Parker said that such efforts have a decided impact on the psychology of those deployed.

“It’s hard to even mention how extremely important it is to know that at home, your loved ones are being taken care of, that they aren’t the only ones carrying the burden of your sacrifice. It’s absolutely vital to know as well, that you have the praise and support of your country.”

“To any soldier, this is a very valuable service,” he continued.

After members of the Patriot Guard deliver wreathes to the Natchez Military Ceremony, they will escort the Walmart containers, stuffed with thousands of wreathes to Houston for the Wreaths Across America ceremony finale on Saturday, Dec. 14.

The Patriot Guard is a group of motorcycle veterans and supporters that act as an escort for Walmart shipping containers. The guard also stands by during funeral services involving veterans and ensures there are no interruptions, possibly due to protestors.

Over the years, this all-volunteer group has become synonymous with the Wreaths across America ceremonies.

The location of the Walmart Distribution Facility on Manufacturer’s Boulevard in north Brookhaven, coupled with the efforts of local veterans and the Military Museum board helped lead event organizers to the city for Thursday’s event, according to Simmons.

“It’s an absolute honor to be part of this,” Simmons said.

State Sen. Sally Doty of Brookhaven, who has been supportive of the Military Museum’s past efforts, was on hand at the ceremony as well.

The Mississippi School of the Arts Choir performed renditions of America the Beautiful and God Bless America at Thursday’s ceremony.

Members of the Mississippi Highway Patrol were among the wreath honorees at the ceremony.

The mission of Wreaths Across America is to “Remember, Honor and Teach.”