NASHVILLE (press release)—Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam hosted the 12th annual “Tennessee Season to Remember” ceremony at First Baptist Church in Nashville to honor victims of homicide. Haslam was joined by several state and local public safety officials. During the ceremony, families from across Tennessee placed ornaments on memorial wreaths in honor of their loved ones.
“We want these families who have suffered unimaginable loss to know that Tennesseans support them and we hope the simple act of hanging an ornament in the name of a loved one can provide some comfort this holiday season,” Haslam said.
The memorial wreaths will be displayed in the Tennessee State Capitol throughout the holiday season.
District Attorney General Mike Dunavant, who serves Tennessee’s 25th Judicial District in west Tennessee, shared his own story as a survivor of a homicide victim. In 2008, Dunavant’s wife, Jackie, was killed in a vehicular homicide accident in Lauderdale County. Dunavant, who was first elected in 2006 and was recently re-elected to a second term, has been a tireless advocate for victims of crime. He has since remarried to Marianne Dunavant, whose fiancé was murdered in 2007 during a restaurant robbery in Nashville. The Dunavants share a passion for advocating for the rights of crime victims. They both serve on the Board of Directors for Tennessee Voices for Victims, a victims’ advocacy organization.
Former Sen. Charlotte Burks and former Tennessee First Lady Andrea Conte placed the first ornaments on the wreaths. Burks’ husband, Sen. Tommy Burks, was murdered in 1998. Conte started the “Tennessee Season to Remember” Ceremony in 2002.
Representatives from the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police and the Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association also placed ornaments on the wreaths in honor of the victims and the survivors they assist throughout the year.