Every year on the third Saturday of December is National Wreaths Across America Day, an occasion when people gather at cemeteries across the country and world to lay wreaths on the graves of fallen servicemen/women. This tradition began in 1992 when Morrill Worcester of the Worcester Wreath Company laid his 5,000 excess wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery. By 2005, a picture of his endeavor gained popularity, inspiring people to join in the effort. In 2006 there were already 150 wreath-laying ceremonies across the country, with Worcester donating 7 wreaths to each, one for each branch of the military, and one for Prisoners of War and Missing in Action (POW/MIA). In 2008, Congress voted for December 13 of that year to be the first National Wreaths Across America Day. This tradition of the second Saturday of December continued until 2016 when it became the third Saturday.
This year, at 12 pm in the afternoon on Saturday, December 15, at more than 1400 cemeteries across the country, people will lay the wreaths that have been donated to the program by both companies and individuals. People come to lay wreaths on the graves of family members, friends, and others, to show respect for their service to our country.
Unfortunately, sometimes there are not enough wreaths to get to all of the graves. Last year, for example, when I attended the ceremony at Calvary Cemetery in Conshohocken we were only able to lay wreaths on slightly over one hundred veteran graves; several thousand were left unwreathed. This is a continuing problem not only here, but at cemeteries across the country. At Calvary Cemetery in particular, there are currently 223 wreaths sponsored, which seems like a lot after the 120 or so from last year, but this is still 3777 from their goal. That means that about 94% of the veterans’ graves there are not going to have wreaths laid on them.
The main message of Wreaths Across America is to “Remember our fallen U.S. veteran. Honor those who serve. Teach your children the value of freedom,” which is not possible if they do not receive enough wreaths. As the years pass, more people are becoming aware and getting involved, but there is still not enough buzz generated to meet all of the wreath goals at participating cemeteries. There is still time for you to get involved in this wonderful program by volunteering to lay or sponsoring wreaths for $15 each. This is an amazing opportunity to give thanks to the fallen, those who have given their lives to protect our nation and our freedom, and to keep the memories of these individuals alive this holiday season.
For more information, visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.