Hard work, fundraising keeps wreaths program going


Placing wreaths on thousands of the graves of veterans at the Cape Canaveral National Cemetery and elsewhere in Brevard County, as well as around the nation, is an honorable and noble effort.

But with the cost of each wreath at $15 and the number of graves increasing by as much as one-third each year, it takes a lot of preparation in fundraising.

There are many who are involved in coordinating the different efforts. I will tell you about one — Betty Jo Green, who coordinates the endeavor for the Cape Canaveral National Cemetery.

“I started the day after we placed the wreaths,” Green said. “It’s a perpetual fundraiser.”

My attention was drawn to Green’s work in recent days because she received a 4-foot by 8-foot flatbed trailer that will be used in parades and fundraising events. The trailer displays headstones, wreaths and flags of the U.S. Armed Services.

Viera High School sophomore Ryan Buchanan, an Eagle Scout candidate, and his brother, Liam, put the display together with financial help from the Good Deed Foundation. It is part of the Cape Canaveral Chapter of Military Officers Association of America.

The advocates are many. Scouts, schools, religious organizations and individuals come together to participate. Organizations, individuals and businesses support the effort financially.

Green, of Satellite Beach, said she became the Wreaths Across America coordinator for Cape Canaveral National Cemetery because of her appreciation for veterans. Her father was a World War II veteran and her husband, Douglas Park, is an Army veteran of the Korean War.

“It’s rewarding for me to know that I’ve helped someone,” she said. “It’s a highlight of my year.”

Green said she often receives calls and mail expressing appreciation from people across the nation who have loved ones interred at the National Cemetery.

Around mid-December of each year on National Wreaths Across America Day, the organization, through donors and volunteers, coordinates the wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery and at 1,600 locations in all 50 states, at sea and abroad. In addition to the Cape Canaveral National Cemetery, wreaths are placed on the graves of veterans interred at other cemeteries in Brevard County that are coordinated by other volunteers.

Green said 7,600 wreaths were placed last year at the Cape Canaveral National Cemetery alone. This year, she expects more than 8,000.

Anyone can help to pay for one or multiple wreaths. Green has people and organizations that sponsor some of the wreaths.

“We’re behind in fundraising because of the pandemic, she said.

For more information on Wreaths Across America, go to  wreathsacrossamerica.org or to help with the Cape Canaveral National Cemetery, call Green at 321-777-1007.