DODGE CITY — The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated changes by Wreaths Across America for annual holiday laying of the wreaths ceremony at Kansas Veterans Cemetery at Fort Dodge and other state memorials.


According to cemetery manager Lori L. Snyder, as part of Wreaths Across America, the laying of the wreaths will take place on Saturday, Dec. 19, however the program will not have a ceremony at the four state veteran cemeteries, Fort Dodge, WaKeeney, Winfield and Fort Riley/Manhattan.


Instead, family members will still be given the opportunity to place a wreath on the grave of their loved one.


"This will be the 16th year that the Kansas Veterans’ Cemetery Program has participated in Wreaths Across America," Snyder said. "Wreaths will be placed by each garden for your convenience.


"Please feel free to take pictures and honor your loved ones.


"For the protection of our families, volunteers, and staff, we ask that you spend no more than 20 minutes within the cemetery."


Wreaths can be placed between 9 and 11 a.m. Dec. 19.


"Staff and Volunteers will place wreaths on graves that have not had wreaths placed prior to 11:00 a.m.," Snyder said. "We request that all participants wear face coverings while on cemetery grounds and maintain six-feet social distancing.


"The offices will remain closed that day. If you need assistance, staff will be available.


"Seven ceremonial wreaths will be placed to remember those who gave their lives in service for our country that were specially made wreaths for Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines and POW/MIA will be placed as memorials."


The wreaths were donated by Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine, which will be donating 2,158 wreaths to state, national and local cemeteries across the U.S.


The Worcester Wreath Company marks its 28th anniversary in donating wreaths in 2020 that adorn headstones of military veterans.


In 2019, over 2.2 million wreaths were placed on veteran grave sites.


"We would like to thank the families, businesses and organizations who so generously donate to Wreaths Across America each year," Snyder said. "Because of your generosity, we have been able to place wreaths on every grave with our cemeteries every year.


"Although we have enough donations to place a wreath on each grave within our cemetery this year, we collect donations all year long, so new donations will be credited for 2021."


To donate for the wreaths placed on graves at the Veterans Cemetery at Fort Dodge, make checks payable to Wreaths Across America and send to Kansas Veterans Cemetery at Fort Dodge, 714 Sheridan-Unit 66, Fort Dodge, KS 67843. Wreaths are $15 each.


Visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.com for more information.