Each December, there’s a special day set aside to remember our fallen U.S. veterans, honor those who serve, and teach children the value of freedom. It’s appropriate the focus of this day is the laying of thousands of wreaths made of evergreen that symbolizes strength, determination and immortality.
This year’s National Wreaths Across America Day observance is Saturday, December 17th. Wreath-laying ceremonies will take place at Arlington National Cemetery and over 1,100 other locations in all 50 states, at sea, and abroad.
Wreaths Across America (WAA) isn’t a government program. It started with Morrill Worcester’s visit to Arlington National Cemetery as a boy. That visit made a lasting impression. Decades later when Worcester’s Maine wreath company had a holiday surplus, he had the idea to place these 5,000 wreaths at gravestones in Arlington. This was the start of an annual tribute. For over ten years, it was a fairly quiet observance until this photo of the snow-covered graves adorned with Worcester’s wreaths went viral on the Internet.
Suddenly, national interest in the project exploded and in 2007 a group of dedicated volunteers formed WAA. Today, the mission of this non-profit 501(c)(3) isn’t limited to December. It’s a year around commitment to remembering, honoring, and teaching future generations about the sacrifices made by those who serve on our behalf.
In 2014, WAA and its national network of volunteers laid over 700,000 memorial wreaths at over 1,100 locations in the U.S. and beyond. According to Karen Worcester, Morrill’s wife and WAA Executive Director, “When we lay wreaths on veterans’ graves, we say each name. We aren’t here to decorate graves. We’re here to remember lives.”
If you’d like to help WAA, there are many ways to get involved from sponsoring a wreath for $15 to volunteering at events and donating trucking support.