Prescott National Cemetery once again will honor the 4,000-plus military veterans buried on its grounds during the annual Wreaths Across America wreath-laying ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday.
The cemetery will simultaneously conduct the ceremony with Arlington National Cemetery and all of the country's 350 national cemeteries.
Prescott Valley Girl Scouts, Chino Valley Boys and Girl Scouts, the ROTC and National Guard will lay wreaths on the unknown soldiers' headstones this Thursday or Friday - just in time for the ceremony that the public is invited to attend.
The American Legion Riders, Prescott National Memorial Ladies and many others in attendance also will present wreaths. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., or a representative from his office expects to attend the ceremony, as will Prescott Mayor Marlin Kuykendall.
The Patriot Guard plays host to the scripted ceremony, with past and present military members, flanked by a Gold Star and Blue Star mother, marching in with all of the Armed Services flags.
About 15 years ago, the Maine-based Worchester Company began the tradition of giving free pine wreaths with red bows to Arlington so it could honor its fallen. Since then, the demand for wreaths has grown across the country, with all veteran cemeteries wanting to show this honor with pride and patriotism.
Today, the company donates one-third of the money generated from the wreaths to educate children about the importance of the military's role in protecting America's values of freedom and civil rights. It gives another third to the organization whose members volunteer their time to generate money for the wreaths of their favorite charity.
At the Prescott National Cemetery, two past presidents of the American Legion Auxiliary are working to donate money to the American Legion Legacy Scholarship. The scholarship is designed to benefit the future college-bound children of military men and women who have died in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
The American Legion holds the money in a trust at the American Legion National Headquarters in Indianapolis until the children reach college age and can apply for the scholarship.
American Legion Riders across the U.S. have generated more than $2 million over the past three years. Coupling that with what the American Legion has received, the scholarship money available totals more than $4 million.
The Prescott Veterans Administration Hospital, 500 Highway 89, is providing parking for the event, with shuttles taking visitors to the cemetery since parking is limited. For information, call 928-567-5012.