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Relaying Wreaths For Veterans

The patriotic spirit and holiday spirit combined Thursday as Brookhaven served as a relay point for the annual Wreaths Across America program.

     The program, begun in 1992, annually sees thousands of wreaths carried across the nation for placement at veterans’ memorials and at other locations.

     “They do so much to recognize and honor our veterans,” said David Simmons, safety manager with the Brookhaven Wal-Mart Distribution Center’s Transportation Division, during a joint meeting of the Brookhaven Lions, Rotary and Servitium clubs.

     Wal-Mart is in its fifth year of helping with the program.

     This year, it is helping to transport more than 70,000 wreaths as part of six convoys. More than 90 drivers, almost all of whom are veterans, are part of this year’s event.

     The convoy that stopped in Brookhaven Thursday was bound for the Houston National Cemetery in Texas. Brookhaven Wal-Mart drivers George Byrd and Robert Drain, escorted by Patriot Guard Riders, Mississippi Highway Patrol and Brookhaven Police, carried the wreath shipment to Amite, La., where another wreath relay ceremony was planned.

     Brookhaven’s stop saw four wreaths left for placement in the area.

     One ceremonial wreath was presented to Brookhaven Alderman at Large Karen Sullivan for placement at the Lincoln County Veterans Memorial at the Lincoln County-Brookhaven Government Complex. A veteran’s wreath was also given to Sullivan to be put in Railroad Park at the memorial to Capt. Danny Entrican.

     Other ceremonial wreaths were presented to MHP Capt. Scott Carnegie to be placed upon the Fallen Trooper Memorial in Jackson and to National Guard Warrant Officer Andrew Wheatley to honor men and women currently serving in the armed forces and their families.

     Wheatley, a 32-year service veteran from Prentiss, was the featured speaker for Thursday’s event. During his brief remarks, he spoke about soldiers’ sacrifices in service to their country.

     “Throughout our nation’s history, our veterans have embodied courage under fire and honor,” Wheatley said.

     Also off-loaded during the Brookhaven relay point stop Thursday were almost 700 wreaths destined for the national cemetery in Natchez. They will be placed in the cemetery, the state’s oldest, during a wreath-laying Saturday at 11 a.m., said Oscar Seyfarth, location leader for the Wreaths Across America program.