Hometown hero honors veterans during Wreaths Across America
Command Sgt. Maj. Finis A. Dodson, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command’s senior enlisted Soldier, lays a wreath during his hometown’s Wreaths Across America event, Dec. 17, 2022, at Blocker Cemetery in Olive Branch, Miss. (U.S. Army photo by Jason B. Cutshaw) (Photo Credit: Jason Cutshaw) VIEW ORIGINAL

OLIVE BRANCH, Miss. – The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command’s senior enlisted leader said Americans must never fail to remember, honor and teach the next generation the value of freedom and the sacrifices made by veterans and their families to preserve freedom.

USASMDC’s Command Sgt. Maj. Finis A. Dodson spoke during his hometown’s Wreaths Across America event Saturday at Blocker Cemetery in Olive Branch, where he also laid a wreath. The cemetery, established in 1847, is the final resting place for 242 veterans.

“In the Army, we know our greatest asset is our people,” Dodson said. “Our all-volunteer Army is a credit to Americans of all races, genders and creeds; and our common commitment to the defense and love of country binds us together and unifies us. Regardless of the military branch in which our veterans have served – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard or Space Force, generations of patriots have dedicated themselves to the defense of our country to make us stronger and more resilient as a nation.”

Dodson said many veterans have continued to serve the nation in a multitude of ways.

“Today, we say thanks to them all,” Dodson said. “We should always remember those who placed their lives on the line for our freedom, honor those service members by laying wreathes on each hero’s grave, and teach each generation the importance of showing our veterans and their families that we will not forget.”

Dodson offered a sincere thanks to everyone for coming out in support of veterans past and present. He also took time to thank the family members who supported their veterans.

“Families are the key to our success as their sacrifices and selfless service allows us to complete our daily missions and ensure readiness,” Dodson said.

Jay Nichols, City of Olive Branch communications director, said that Wreaths Across America remembers the fallen, honors those who serve and their families, and teaches the next generation the value of freedom.

Nichols said a local couple, Ed and Dianna Crumpler, traveled with the Wreaths Across America group last year to lay wreaths at numerous locations throughout the country. He said it made a huge impact on them and they then met with him and the mayor to encourage Olive Branch to have its own event at the city-owned cemetery.

“The city of Olive Branch is proud to support all veterans and our military,” Nichols said. “We found this opportunity to be a great way to show our support. It’s impossible to repay these veterans and their families completely for their service and support, but we can recognize and honor them through this Wreaths Across America event, and use the event to teach the next generation.”

Nichols said the city exceeded its goal of selling 250 wreaths by 16 wreaths.

“We put out the call that we needed our community to support our veterans resting in Blocker Cemetery, and our people answered the call,” Nichols said. “They not only answered through purchasing wreaths, but many volunteered to come out to place the wreaths on the gravesites of our fallen veterans.”