Contact:  Philip H. Merry, Jr. Chairman
Fort Smith, AR – Tuesday, November 17, 2020 – Due to COVID-19, Christmas Honors previously announced that the traditional December laying of the wreaths at the Fort Smith National Cemetery had to be cancelled. However, alternative plans were underway to fulfill the organization’s mission: “to show respect and honor to veterans and their families to ensure they will never be forgotten.” The 2020 plans are now complete.
In partnership with Chaffee Crossing, Christmas Honors is hosting a tribute display consisting of over 18,000 names of every veteran buried at the Fort Smith National Cemetery.  
The Christmas Honors Tribute at Chaffee Crossing exhibit will open on December 5, 2020 at 10:00 AM and remain on display through December 28th. Located at 7300 Buckhorn St., the 1,200 ft one-way drive will pay tribute to all that have served. The drive-through display will allow for families to pay respect without the risk of crowds during COVID times. It also gives the community the opportunity to view the display for the month of December at their leisure as they could do during the traditional month of December at the Fort Smith National Cemetery.
Fort Chaffee Executive Director and CEO Daniel Mann says the Christmas Honors Tribute collaboration provided Chaffee Crossing an opportunity to show appreciation for veterans that is usually expressed through the annual Regional Veterans Day Parade at Chaffee Crossing. He explained, “It was a very difficult decision to cancel the Veterans Day Parade this year, so we jumped at the chance to honor veterans with this tribute display. We are committed to thanking veterans for all they sacrificed to protect us and preserve our freedoms. This year it may look a little different, but our sincerity is just as genuine.”
Christmas Honors’ Chairman, Philip H. Merry, Jr. expressed his gratitude for the support by local organizations, businesses, and citizens to ensure that our veterans are honored this December. “The COVID-19 pandemic shall not cease our on-going tribute to, and remembrance of our heroes buried at the Fort Smith National Cemetery. Our veterans will never be forgotten.” He added, “We’ll never be able to thank them adequately, but we can keep trying.”
As always, families are welcome to visit their loved ones at the Fort Smith National Cemetery at any time. For up-to-date COVID guidelines, please visit
Christmas Honors expects to resume the traditional event in 2021.
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** In 2009, a volunteer group began the local Christmas Honors program. The mission was to transform the Fort Smith National Cemetery into a vision of beauty each December. Their goal was to show respect and honor to the fallen heroes and their families that so loved our country. The first year, more than 1,000 volunteers respectfully placed a wreath on each of the 12,000 headstones. The program has since grown to serving 18,000+ veterans and their families who shared them. Over the last 13 years, other cities along the  Oklahoma / Arkansas state line have networked with our Fort Smith Christmas Honors team to carry the respect and honor for veterans and their families into their own special veteran remembrance events, with over 44,000 total burial sites respected and honored each year.