DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — Every year, Wreaths Across America decorates gravesites across the country, including in Danville National Cemetery. But there’s a slight problem: the cemetery has 12,000 gravestones, but right now, they have only raised enough money for 1,000 wreaths.
One Central Illinois mom hopes her story will encourage you to donate.
Tammy Williams’ involvement with Wreaths Across America started out of a simple act of kindness for her best friend’s mother, 88-year-old Joyce Melton. Melton’s husband died in 2010, and her son Kirk died in 2012. Both are buried at Danville National Cemetery.
She said the pain of losing her son was too much. She didn’t visit his grave for two years.
“I just couldn’t go,” Melton said.
Williams went for her and decorated Kirk’s gravesite that first Christmas.
“I noticed that there were maybe 200 wreaths, but they were all in the center circle,” Williams said. “There were none here at the back of the cemetery.”
Since then, Williams has dedicated her life to Danville’s Wreaths Across America chapter, a non-profit whose mission is to remember every veteran for the holidays.
“For $15, a wreath would be placed on their grave,” Williams said. “And even if you donated one wreath, that would be one more veteran that got honored.”
Melton said it meant everything to her, knowing that Williams and others have donated time and money to decorate other veteran gravesites when she couldn’t bear to do it herself.
“What she’s done to honor Kirk has just been unbelievable,” Melton said.
Melton now visits her son’s gravesite and has even gone to a Wreaths Across America ceremony.
“You see how truly solemn and uplifting it is and to hear the stories of all the people that they honor,” Melton said.
Melton said the wreaths give her hope for the future, knowing her son will never be forgotten.
“So when we’re not around to put them, we know that somebody cares,” Melton said.
You can donate to Wreaths Across America here.