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Celebrating the season and the ultimate sacrifice

In a celebration of both sacrifice and the season, the graves of soldiers at the Chattanooga National Cemetery will soon bear a hint of Christmas. Volunteers, including JROTC cadets from local high schools, are adorning them with wreaths as part of the annual Wreaths Across America event taking place this year Dec. 15 at 11 a.m.

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Contributed photo

Hixson High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets hold cans they donated this semester to the Chattanooga Area Food Bank. From left are Corynne Schannuth, Taylor Bryant, Josh Zumbrunn, JR Walker, Elijah Hiatt, Spencer Waites, Eric Jones and Jackson Wilkey. The cadets collected 636 cans through a schoolwide canned food drive led by Cadet Zephr Smith.

Thirty of Hixson High School’s 130-member Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps are participating. It is the fourth time the Hixson cadets have taken part in the military ceremony.

“One of the reasons why this is one of our goals is that we want to serve the community,” said HHS Cadet Senior Master Sgt. Jackson Wilkey, a junior. “We want to honor the soldiers so they have a Christmas still.”

“Taps” will be played during the ceremony as 100 local cadets lay 500 wreaths on graves before saluting the soldier buried underneath, and their ultimate sacrifice. Anyone can attend the ceremony and watch on the sidelines as a spectator. The free event ends at 4 p.m.

The Chattanooga National Cemetery is the second largest National Cemetery in the United States, according to Wilkey.

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