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Disabled veteran in Excelsior Springs placing wreaths on local military graves

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EXCELSIOR SPRINGS, Mo. -- A favorite saying of military veterans holds that "Some Gave All."

One veteran in Clay County wants those veterans remembered. He's working to ensure the memory of fallen veterans is kept alive by keeping their graves decorated.

No military grave will go forgotten, as far as Excelsior Springs resident Kit Smith is concerned. The former United States Navy electronics technician wants to make sure the graves of every U.S. military man or woman in Clay and Ray counties bears a commemorative wreath.

Once per year, smith and his teenage son, C.J., visit local cemeteries where they decorate military headstones with fresh greenery. Smith says he believes every veteran is worthy of our respect, even after they've been gone for a while.

Smith says it worries him, seeing the gravesites of deceased veterans going neglected, as immediate family members of those vets also pass on.

"When a veteran signs up, he signs up and he gives a blank check to the United States of America. These guys gave of themselves," Smith said. "It's important that we recognize that."

Smith says he modeled his effort, which is called Citizens For Veterans, after a national military honor group called Wreaths Across America, which is known for placing similar wreaths on gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery.

"It's a love of your country," Smith said.

"The military doesn't pay very well. It didn't make me a wealthy man. It's just one day to give recognition for the sacrifice these people gave," he continued.

Dennis Heine is vice-commander at the VFW post in Excelsior Springs. He agrees that more needs to be done to honor soldiers long after their deaths.

"I know there are some civic organizations that go out and put flags on graves of veterans, and I say hats off to them," Heine said. "They're the people who are remembering our veterans."

"There's no better feeling that coming home and knowing you did something for your fellow veterans," Smith said.

Smith says each wreath costs $15 apiece. He says he doesn't receive any financial assistance in purchasing the wreaths, but he says it's worth it to keep the spirit of our fallen soldiers alive.

Smith says he's preparing for the next day designated for ceremonial placing of wreaths.

He says he'll set out again this coming December 13th.

Smith says he welcomes your questions and comments via email -- citizens4vets@gmail.com

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