Marilyn Childress with the Veterans Heritage Site Foundation spoke with WATE 6 On Your Side about the project and the need for volunteers.
“The Smoky Mountains is one of the few national parks that actually has folks buried because it was land taken from people that already lived there, so there’s family homes, churches, cemeteries that already have people buried there throughout all five counties of the park,” Childress said. “As of two years ago, we did not have a list of all these veterans that were buried in the park and I was helping at the national cemetery for Wreaths Across America and I thought, ‘why are we not placing wreaths in the national park because it’s the same thing as a national cemetery?’ So I asked and they didn’t have the list, and within six months, we had 166 veterans that were vetted. As of today we have 238 veterans that are vetted that are buried within the park, or their remains have been put in the park.”
There are 64 different sites within the park where veterans are buried. The graves of veterans who fought in the Revolutionary War through the Vietnam War have been identified.
People and organization representatives who want to volunteer their time to help with the wreath-laying are in for some hiking to get to some of the burial sites in the park. A list of veterans buried in the Smokies park can be viewed here.
To volunteer, visit the Veterans Heritage Site Foundation website.