National Wreaths Across America Day is December 14th

Honoring Veteran grave sites during the holidays



 

Graphic showing a person placing a wreath on the grave of a Veteran.

To honor and remember Veterans during the holiday season, the non-profit organization Wreaths Across America organizes the annual event of laying Christmas wreaths on Veteran’s graves. The event is held every December, on the second or third Saturday of the month. This year’s National Wreaths Across America Day takes place on Dec. 14, 2019.

Wreaths Across America’s annual escort to Arlington National Cemetery kicks off on Saturday, Dec. 7. National President of American Gold Star Mothers, Mona Gunn, will lead the caravan as this year’s Grand Marshal.

The escort will travel down the east coast, stopping at schools, memorials and other locations to REMEMBER, HONOR and TEACH. It will make stops in Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Washington D.C. The escort’s final stop will be Arlington National Cemetery on the morning of Saturday, Dec. 14. To view the complete schedule, please visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/arlington-escort-information.

“Wreaths Across America provides opportunities for us to carry out our mission – finding strength in the fellowship of other Gold Star Mothers who strive to keep the memory of our sons and daughters alive,” said Mona Gunn, President of American Gold Star Mothers, and this year’s grand marshal. “[We’re] working to help Veterans, those currently serving, their families and our communities.”

Why lay wreaths?

Wreaths Across America understands that service members sacrifice their time and safety every single day of the year to preserve our freedoms. It can’t or won’t replace Veterans Day or Memorial Day. But during the holidays, in many homes, some families leave an empty seat for one who’s serving or one who’s made the ultimate sacrifice. There is no better time to express appreciation than during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

How to Help

Wreaths Across America needs volunteers to make the mission a reality. Wreaths Across America needs volunteers who can lay wreaths on National Wreaths Across America Day, coordinate a ceremony or oversee a location. If you don’t currently have a Wreath Day location near you, Wreaths Across America will support you in becoming a Location Coordinator for a cemetery in your area. There is no cost to become a participating location or to host a ceremony.

For information on wreaths, volunteering or finding a nearby participating location, visit: https://wreathsacrossamerica.org/.

The sharing of any non-VA information does not constitute an endorsement of products and services on part of the VA.


By student interns Laura Tamayo and Michaela Yesis, with graphics designed by Alyssa Morford. 

Author

VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. Megan Connell-Cox    

    I participated in the Newark Ohio Memorial Gardens Wreaths Across America last Saturday. I am a disabled veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom: before, during, and after the 9-11 terrorist attacks. I have two grandfathers, one who served in WWII and the other in the Korean War. I have had many friends who have been active-duty military in all branches of the armed forces, and I have lost some of those friends during the Iraqi and Afghanistan conflicts. I currently am a student at The Ohio State University working for a Bachelor’s in Social Work; specifically, Chemical Dependency, and the populations I want to help/work with are the military and emergency first-responders who struggle with the effects of Post-traumatic stress which is most often dual-diagnosed with a substance use issue/disorder. Currently, the DOD releases stats of 22 Vets a day who commit suicide due to the effects of PTS. I can tell you from my own research I conducted this last summer at my Alma Matter, Central Ohio Technical College, for a dedication monument i.e. this epidemic that number is UNDER REPORTED.

    Last Saturday was very emotional for me, and I would like to share what my experience was like as closely as I can to anyone who might read this:
    This time of year in Ohio for anyone who doesn’t live here or is unfamiliar with Midwest-winter-weather-patterns, the temperature fluctuates from sometimes 60* on a Monday to falling temperatures below 30* the very next day. I am probably under-estimating the exact percentage, but my best guess would be during fall/winter months in NW and Central Ohio where I am from and currently reside, the cloudy, rainy days fall pretty close to 6 out of 7 days a week. This was last Saturday – a light drizzle that doesn’t seem like much if you are just running out to your car for a quick drive down the street to the market, but if you are standing outside for a period of time in it, the cold and wet penetrate your clothes so much that once you get out of the elements and return inside to the warmth of your home, you feel it in your bones. It can be teeth-chattering if you aren’t prepared for it.
    I had my oversized umbrella I carried with me, and I had dressed in layers, but I could feel the dreary drizzle starting to settle in my core on about my fourth trip back to the table where the cemetery groundskeepers were unloading the 405 wreaths the small group of us were distributing across the property to place on the veterans graves. We were instructed prior to beginning the process of laying them down how to properly, respectfully conduct ourselves. It was advised to say the veteran’s name aloud before laying the wreath, and if while on your way to the next site you happened to pass a grave that had already been adorned, to stop, acknowledge the veteran you were passing, just taking a moment to lift them up, and then continue on your mission.
    I decided on my first trip to stand at attention, saying the individual’s name aloud, their rank, and if posted their rate/MOS, then I thanked them for their service aloud, and then I asked for my God to Bless them. I realized at about the 4 grave site I had tears coming down my cheeks after I asked the WWII veteran if possibly he knew my Grandpa? I realized just how important this small gesture was, I stood a little taller, and continued to do what I was there to do until I couldn’t physically carry anymore wreaths. Sadly, I had to stop, due to the issues I have which are caused by my service-connected disability. I felt awful I couldn’t continue, but I silently thanked my Higher Power for allowing me the privilege to participate for the amount of time I did. I cried during my drive home. I called my parents and my mother asked about the ceremony/service. She began to cry a little over the phone.
    This small gesture is a big deal to many people. The Christmas wreath is not a religious symbol, it is symbol of continuity, community, friendship, and love. We were reminded that this day, December 14, is not a day of sadness or grief, but rather a celebration of the commitment thousands of men and women gave their lives for and they should be remembered as such. Celebration of life, not a mourning of death.

    1. Ralph Hensley    

      Megan, May our Creator bless you and keep you! I was moved by your comments. So much so and if you are so inclined, I want to share your comments with our Sisters and Brothers of American Veterans (AMVETS) Department of Virginia.

      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

      Stay strong and know that you are a much beloved child of God. Amen

      Blessing, Ralph Hensley
      YNCS, USN (Ret)
      3rd Vice Commander, AMVETS Department of Virginia

  2. Ned Fishman    

    It is amazing that this organization puts these CHRISTMAS (as stated in the article) wreaths on the graves of all veterans. They show absolutely no respect for people of other or no religions. They claim they are not a religious symbol but find another religion that uses a wreath during this time of year. They continue year after year being disrespectful to others with no apologies. They don’t care about anyone but themselves!

    1. Tom Lawler    

      Ned, Wreathes are not placed on graves that are marked with a Star of David. A small rock is placed on the headstone as gesture of respect, not decorating a Jewish person’s grave.

    2. Ralph Hensley    

      Ned, This is a teaching moment. If you are participating in laying wreaths to honor our Servicemembers and feel that the wreath is not appropriate, then it is upon you to honor the memory of those Servicemembers by teaching others what would be appropriate to demonstrate love for that Servicemember. As Tom Lawler notes, some understand and find other ways to honor that Servicemember. I feel in my heart that the wreath laying is not done out of disrespect. I too learned from this post.
      Ralph Hensley
      YNCS, USN (Ret)
      3rd Vice Commander, AMVETS Department of Virginia

  3. Noemi Italy    

    I think this is an Amazing gesture!! I think it the wreath is a beautiful show of love and respect.

  4. Alan G. Thompson    

    Check their 990’s on their website..They certainly don’t absorb all the costs. A great organization to donate to…

    1. Ralph Hensley    

      Agreed Alan…thank you for bringing this to the forefront! Happy Holidays!

  5. Ms. Gloria Gautier    

    I truly loved placing a wreath on my son’s grave site. I have done it for the five years he has been at his new home. ( I call it going to Mark’s House, lol) I place flags, birthday balloons, Autumn Wreaths, Xmass Wreaths and any other occasion I feel he should be reminded how much I miss and love him. We will never stop missing our love ones, but we have somewhere we can visit to feel close to them.
    Talk to them at their house I believe they know we are there.
    My son was a Decorated American Amry Soldier from Baton Rouge, Lousiana. Never stop going as long as you can!

    If someone else lives here and attend the Ceremonies, please get in touch by email.

    Ms.Gautier

    1. Ralph Hensley    

      Ms. Gautier, I serve at Winchester National Cemetery in Winchester, VA and I am honored to lay wreaths on my cousins’ resting place. My cousins are Patsy Clines’ Mom & Dad. Happy Holidays to you and yours. God bless, Ralph Hensley
      YNCS, USN (Ret), 3rd Vice Commander, AMVETS Department of Virginia

  6. Arlene G Dill    

    A wreath is not a religious symbol, I think it is a beautiful show of love and respect

  7. John O.    

    My grandfather (WWI and WWII vet) and grandmother are buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

    I live in another state.

    Thank you.

  8. Ronald May, DMD    

    How can I contribute to the Wreaths across America Co for their magnanimous gesture?? They certainly can’t be wexpected to absorb all of the costs.

  9. John Garcia    

    For those that would like a wreath for their loved ones grave site you could try contacting the Civil Air Patrol United States Air Force Auxiliary in your area. Civil Air Patrol obtains finds to purchase wreaths by asking for sponsorship of $15.00 for each wreath. Wreaths are purchased and shipped out to various locations. Sponsored wreaths are placed on grave marker at State, National Veteran’s Cemeteries as well as some local. It is a beautiful site to see these young cadets dressed in their blues kneeling down placing the wreaths. The mission in doing this is TO REMEMBER. HONOR AND TEACH We support the Civil Air Patrol Squadron 45 March AFB , CA . It is an honor to sponsor these you g people they are doing good things and they should be acknowledged and supported. They are our FUTURE

  10. Chuck Haney    

    How can I get involved in laying wreaths at the cemetery in the cemetery in North Phx?

  11. Jane Toland    

    How can I get some for the veterans in pawhuska Oklahoma? I would like to honor the ones here who have no family around to honor them

  12. Jane Toland    

    I live in a small town where I know we have veterans who don’t have people that visit there grave cites, is there any way I could get in voled and lay a wreath for them. I would love to honor a fallen fellow solider. My small way to say thank you to them. From one solider to another.

    Respectfully,
    Specialist Toland

    1. Richard Clay    

      For several years now, I have been leaving small flags on the graves of my Veteran relatives in a small county in east Texas. After reading the article on Wreaths Across America, this year I placed both wreaths and flags. What really struck me was thinking about all the small towns and counties where the graves of Veterans are forgotten and only taken care of by churches or cemetery personnel. With this in mind, I started looking for the VA-supplied headstones or footstones at the cemeteries I was visiting and I found one that really got my attention. On the VA-supplied footstone it read that the man was a survivor of the USS Arizona! That really got to me because not more than 15 yards away is my dad’s grave. He too was at Pearl Harbor on December 7th but not on the Arizona. I hope we don’t forget about our Veterans who are not buried in National Cemeteries because there are a lot of them. I have decided to start a project of finding all the cemeteries in Shelby County, Texas and at least placing a flag on Veterans’ graves going forward. I am a Navy Vietnam Veteran myself but the Veterans we need to thank the most are the WW1 and WW2 Veterans because without them we would not have the freedom we have today.

  13. Vicki Lynn Ralls    

    I think this is an Amazing gesture!!!!
    how can I go about helping and receiving one for my dad? I didn’t see DfW area as a recipient eligible for a wreath.like I stated I am also willing and interested in helping.
    sincerely,
    Vicki Ralls

    1. Ralph Hensley    

      Vicki, In the small country town of Dayton, VA, the locals team up with the American Legion post to place wreaths on the Heroes laid to rest within the Dayton Cemetery. There is a blessing and small ceremony conducted. No need to wait for Wreaths Across America to do something that would be on your heart to coordinate. Reach out to your local Veterans Service Organizations and/or Red Cross to seek support. In Winchester, VA at Winchester National Cemetery, the Civil Air Patrol coordinates our local program and holds fundraisers throughout the year to raise funds. Our local VSOs and Red Cross also support and purchase wreaths for placement. This year was a banner year with almost every marker honored with a wreath. Goal is to place one on each grave as well as cross the road into Mt. Hebron Cemetery where many many more Heroes are at rest. Merry Christmas to you and yours! God bless, Ralph Hensley, YNCS, USN (Ret),
      3rd Vice Commander, AMVETS Department of Virginia

  14. Eric H.    

    I think it is a wonderful gesture. The departed Vets and their families deserve the recognition and positive memories during the holiday season especially. Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to participate…our entire family will see you at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies, Bridgeville, PA.

  15. LARRY G CELLEY    

    We have alot of Vets here in our Cemetaries Here in my community that have been forgotten I would like to Honor them please help me

  16. Chip Noon    

    This is what happens when we denigrate government agencies and hire unqualified people. How does the VA (or its advertising agency) spell “remember”?

    1. jerome haver    

      I do not spell check when I read for all the three stupid comments, people that worry about a letter. My whole attention is and allways be about us veterans that suffer for the rest of there lives, and to honor the ones that paved the way for myself. Yes I have spell checker and sure all 3 will tell me know about what is wrong with mine. Like to see say it to some colleagues of mine to there face. Now I would show up for this party.

    2. Ms. Gloria Gautier    

      Do not allow someone to get you upset concerning misspelled words, it’s not important. We are honoring our love ones and that is what matters.

      A Veteran’s Mom.

  17. Lou G    

    I think it is a beautiful gesture but couldn’t the resources be put to better use? Placing reusable flags would be honorable and not involve environmentally damaging use of wreaths. The company that set up this gesture benefits from the sale of the wreaths. Not all faiths appreciate a religious symbol placed on their grave either.

    1. Kevin A Capel    

      What…*€#μ¿¥…!!!!

      1. Daniel de la Garza    

        The company that started this movement thought it would be a nice gesture to place the excess wreaths that they had left over from Christmas on the graves of veterans.
        Because of their good will gesture, they did receive publicity but doesn’t that happen with most good deeds, especially in this day of everyone with a phone reporting anything they see good or bad. Flags for fallen vets already places reusable flags on veteran graves around Memorial day.

    2. Jason Streeter    

      You know, I’m Buddhist, but if a Jewish Rabbi came by and offered to place a mezuzah on my or my family members site in honor and recognition of their service and gratitude of what they have done not just for Jewish people, but for our country, I would welcome him and his gift with open arms and say “Thank you, brother, for gracious gift. “

  18. William Walls    

    Will anyone be laying wreaths around the Hopwood, Fairchance, Pa. Area?

  19. William Walls    

    Will anyone be laying wreaths in and around the Uniontown or Hopwood, PA area?

  20. Ellen j Robertson    

    Will wreaths be laid in Arizona?

  21. Lisa nash Roberts    

    How can I get a wreath for my husband ,who was a disabled veteran.so I can be able to lay it by his grave sight as his survivor spouse

Comments are closed.