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11-year-old raises money for wreaths to honor fallen soldiers at Yorktown cemetery

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Posted at 3:43 PM, Oct 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-29 17:37:44-04

YORKTOWN, Va. - Yorktown National Cemetery holds a special place in Cadence Smeltzer’s heart.

“My dad is in the military and he has been serving for 20 years,” said Smeltzer. My great grandfather was serving in the Korean War and his brother was a prisoner of war and a Purple Heart recipient.”

She has a long line of service members in her family and every year she likes to honor the service members in other families. “We go to the flagpole in the circle around it and we have like a couple seconds of silence and then we start laying the wreaths “

In December, Remembrance Wreaths are placed on the graves of the fallen, many who served as Union soldiers in the Civil War. “It’s kind of like a Christmas present,” she explained. But unfortunately, not everyone gets a gift.

In the past three years Smeltzer has participated, she says many graves don’t have their own wreaths.

“It was very heartbreaking, and it almost felt like I was going to cry because it’s really important," she said.

This year, Cadence is on a crusade. She started her own fundraiser through Wreath’s Across America to make sure every grave is adorned. For every two wreaths sponsored through the Freedom’s Cadence fundraiser, she says Wreath’s Across America will send another wreath for free.

“Just imagine this is your ancestors here and everybody else is forgetting what they have done for this country.”

With a little over a month to reach her goal, she’s hoping she can make a Christmas miracle happen with your help.

“Just don’t forget our veterans because it means so much to everybody else, so it means so much to me.”

Her initial goal is 150 wreaths, but she plans to keep raising the bar until every veteran has a wreath for Christmas.

Click here to sponsor a wreath.