Remember. Honor. Teach.

Published 10:42 am Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Some days we tend to forget ourselves. We tend to forget how special we are. I guess that is not unusual for the human condition. On some days our mirrors only show us where we are less than perfect. But on other days, we come to the table overwhelmed by our goodness. Last Thursday, October 28, proved to be one of the days we got a glimpse of just how awesome we are. There was a group of Sumter Countians gathered in the dining hall at GSW. As we ate our fried chicken and peach cobbler, we heard all about us—from voices not our own.

Representatives from the Taylor Family Foundation who are working hand in hand with Wreaths Across America told us of one of our treasures. The Andersonville National Historic Site, and the cemetery which makes up part of the site is, in fact, precious ground. Most of us know the story of how we got Andersonville, what it meant to the men who were prisoners there, what it meant to the country and some of us even know what it meant to the citizens of Sumter County while it was in active operation. However, sometimes we think the story stops in 1865.

Today, many of our neighbors and their spouses are buried there because they served as well. Andersonville has been sacred ground since the 1860’s and with each new internment, there is another chapter of the story unfolding. What do the citizens of Sumter County do in 2021? How do we view such a rich history today? The Wreaths Across America suggests we do three things when standing on the ground of such a site. We remember, we spend a little time invested in the lives which invested in ours. We honor, we recognize there are some who are so dedicated to the most basic principals of what it means to live free it deserves a lingering to honor. And we teach. We don’t try to rewrite a history, we don’t add to the story, we don’t take away from it, we teach it, just at it was so another generation can have the story to hold. Remember. Honor. Teach.

Wreaths Across America practices these three things every day. However, you have an opportunity to join in their efforts. It is, after all, our back yard their work benefits. You will see their efforts around Christmas. This year, on December 18, at 12 noon, a ceremony which remembers, honors and teaches about the lives of our service men and women will begin. As part of this ceremony, a wreath will be laid on every eligible service members’ marker. It makes for a beautiful site, and some have said it makes for a life changing day. This year, the families of the 13 who paid with their lives in an effort to leave Afghanistan will be at the ceremony. It is our responsibility and our joy to bestow such honor on these families. Another manner in which you can join in on the remembering, honoring and teaching, is to sponsor a wreath. The wreaths are handmade, each one lovingly put together with service families in mind. For every two wreaths purchased, a third one will be given. This is a good incentive as greater than 20, 000 are needed to ensure our cemetery is covered. Another way to join in the task? Simply show up. Your presence is needed. You, just as you are, are needed. It seems like a rather small thing, and we have a tendency to overlook how important we are. But we need you to remember how much you are needed every day, but especially on 12.18.21 at noon. Plan now to honor, remember and teach on the 18th. You are needed.

If you would like to support the mission by donation please go to:  wreathsacrossamerica.org/GA0213. You will find out all about the mission and have an opportunity to personalize your gift. And just so you know, as our story was told by men who are not Sumter County residents, it resonated with several of our residents. During the presentation Precision Auto donated $1000, TSG donated $1000 and Beamon Law Group donated $500.  They stood up to say this mission of remembering, honoring and teaching was a noble one, and they sponsored many wreaths. Perhaps it would be helpful if more fitting words were used. They chose to honor what is best about us. They chose to endorse the qualities which make us uniquely human and uniquely holy. They chose to lay a wreath, yes, but ultimately, they chose to say thank you to someone who lived out virtues we want to see grow and multiply. Please consider doing the same and offering the best of yourself. There is a place only you can fill.