Monday, March 4, 2024

Remember Cadence? The 11-year-old made sure every veterans’ grave had a wreath

Cadence Smeltzer attends the wreath laying ceremony at Yorktown National Cemetery each December and helps place the wreaths on the graves of veterans, but this year created her own fundraising group, Freedom’s Cadence, in partnership with Wreaths Across America.

In the beginning of November when Wydaily interviewed Cadence and Vanessa Smeltzer, she was just shy of 377 wreaths.

Through her dedication and support of the community, Cadence was able to collect 1,100 wreaths. The 11-year-old ended the year raising $11,000 for Wreaths Across America.

With the buy two get one wreath offer, 1,100 wreaths were sponsored in total. Of those, 1,020 were taken to to Yorktown National Cemetery, 77 to Cedar Grove Cemetery in Portsmouth, and three to a small cemetery in New Jersey. Yorktown exceeded their goal by over 500 wreaths this year. Those excess wreaths were transferred to Arlington National Cemetery.

Cadence, along with a small group of Coast Guard volunteers, braved the cold and rain and offloaded 179 cases of wreaths at Yorktown Dec. 14. and all returned to the cemetery Dec. 15, to lay all 1,596 wreaths. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful experience said Vanessa Smeltzer.

Cadence Smeltzer laying wreaths on headstones Dec. 15 at Yorktown National Cemetery. (Wydaily/Courtesy of Vanessa Smeltzer)

She stayed to straighten bows and pray for the soldiers buried there.

There are usually about 200 to 400 graves that go without a wreath, her mother said, but this year there were none.

“Mama, we did it! I just can’t believe it. Every grave has a wreath for Christmas this year. Look how beautiful this cemetery looks covered in these wreaths. It’s gonna look like this every Christmas from now on,” Cadence told her mother Vanessa Smeltzer.

The Smeltzers are  forever thankful for anyone who took the time to share Cadence’s story or reached into their pockets to help sponsor a wreath.

“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” said Vanessa Smeltzer.

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