Wreaths Across America at Oakwood Cemetery

As I sat down with Sue Purkis, I can tell that a meaningful story is about to unfold. With a smile, she tells me that she is an advocate for Wreaths Across America, an organization dedicated to remember, honor, and teach about our brave military members and veterans. Each December, they lay wreaths on the graves at Arlington National Cemetery and many other veterans’ cemeteries across the country. After creating a chapter of Wreaths Across America at Oakwood Cemetery, she tells me that this venture has been quite successful in the past three years.  Veterans and many of their families dwell in a section known as the Field of Honor where veterans are provided with a white, marble headstone marker by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs free of charge. Oakwood Cemetery’s purpose is to provide a low-cost burial space for veterans and their families while keeping a space that honors the lives of those interred.

Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, Purkis knew about WAA before coming to Raleigh. She considers herself as someone who is interested in cemeteries and also in the preservation aspects. In the past, cemeteries were places where families held picnics and gatherings. As someone who has worked in a hospice setting where taking care of ill and elderly patients were normal, death is not a hidden thing for her. She firmly muses,
“We all deal with it.”

Oakwood is a peaceful place of rest and life for her. When she has time, Purkis volunteers at events such as the North Carolina Science Festival: The Birds and the Bees and the Urn Art & Garden Faire held here. She hopes to see more local events that will create involvement for those who are curious about Oakwood.

On this year’s ceremony for WAA at Oakwood, the goal is to be able to lay more wreaths for all veterans who reside in other sections outside the Field of Honor. In the past, the Girl Scouts came to lay wreaths and Purkis hopes that more of the “next generation” will attend. Moreover, she tells me that if there was full representation from the Army, Navy, Coastguard, Airforce, Marines, and the POWs, she would feel complete and content on this year’s mission.

Oakwood Cemetery will host another Wreaths Across America event on Saturday, December 12, 2015 at 12:00 p.m.

If you have any questions, please call Robin Simonton at 919.832.6077

For those who would like to purchase wreaths this season, please visit:
http:// www.WreathsAcrossAmerica.org

Sponsoring Group ID Number: NC 0016P
Location ID: NC H0FH
Name of Cemetery: Oakwood Cemetery

You can also press on the link below:

imagePhoto Credit: Sue Purkis

Welcome to Oakwood Plot Lines

Many of you have never heard of Raleigh, North Carolina. But in this little city there is a picturesque place that is about to be discovered. Oakwood Cemetery holds over 140 years of history and is the last dwelling place for many prominent figures such as James Dinwiddie, former President of Peace Institute in 1890, Berrien Upshaw, the character model for Rhett Butler in his ex-wife’s, Margaret Mitchell, novel, Gone with the Wind, Madeline Jane Jones Proctor, the co-founder of Mother’s Day, Cornelia Petty Jerman, the founder of the Raleigh League of Women Voters and women’s rights advocate and many other famous figures.


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Beautifully sound architecture grace this pastoral park where it can be seen through the monuments and gravestones of many styles. Visitors can take pictures of the old Civil War Cemetery, enjoy picnics, stay for long walks and even just to pass by. On the first Friday of each month, a Flashlight Walking tour welcomes residents and curious friends to learn about Raleigh’s past and people. Tours like these rely on a small donation that support the non-profit and privately owned cemetery. A Read in Peace Book Club meets inside Oakwood’s office for some educational and insightful reading on books such as Asleep: The Forgotten Epidemic That Remains One of Medicine’s Greatest Mysteries by Molly Caldwell Crosby and Look Homeward, Angel: A Story of the Buried Life by Thomas Wolfe.

The purpose of Oakwood Plot Lines is to share the moments of Oakwood Cemetery through pictures, stories, and facts. Most people don’t realize that there is so much more that goes on in a cemetery besides burials. The truth is that this a place to where honor still lives on after death. Loved ones can still see those they lost  and remember them here. The grey stones and surrounding hills of green are tended after carefully by the caretakers who take pride in keeping Oakwood a part of Raleigh’s history. The past and the present reside with one another and here is where those memories continue to live and tell some tales.