During the ceremony held in conjunction with others all over the United States, residents are invited to turn out at 10:30 a.m. and help place wreaths on graves throughout the sprawling veterans cemetery on Knox Bridge Highway.
About 5,100 wreaths are expected to arrive in Canton on Saturday morning for the event, but that will fall almost 1,500 short of the goal to place one at every headstone, said Evanthe Papastathis, coordinator for the event.
“This is the first year we haven’t been able to do that,” Papastathis said of the event, which has been going in Canton since 2007. “We’ve been very fortunate to be able to put a wreath on every headstone.”
But she hopes the community can come together and make up the shortage.
Typically, Papastathis said Canton’s ceremony sees high attendance numbers of sometimes 2,000 people, and she’s been asking those she knows are coming to bring a wreath or two along.
“If everybody brought one wreath, they can place it anywhere they want,” she said, adding that it’s too late to sponsor a wreath through Wreaths Across America. “Then, everybody would have a wreath this year and it would be a beautiful thing.”
The event to honor veterans and their families will also feature several speakers during the event’s formal program at noon, bringing a message of honor to those who have served their country, Papastathis said.
The keynote speaker will be retired Brig. Gen. Jon Collins, a Silver Star Medal and Purple Heart recipient, who also serves as executive director of adult education at Chattahoochee Technical College.
Kipling McVay, of the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton’s advisory council, said no matter how many wreaths are put out, the event is always well attended and a respectful homage to veterans.
In fact, she said the event really doesn’t even need much media coverage to get patriotic residents out.
“We used to get more publicity,” McVay said. “Now, we don’t have to tell anybody anything, they just come.”
Papastathis said those who do attended can hear from an inspiring set of speakers and use the morning to be reminded that “your freedom really wasn’t free.”
“These people that are buried here, a good portion of them died for that freedom,” she said.