Wreaths Arriving Saturday at Arlington Nat’l Cemetery

by ARLnow.com December 9, 2011 at 3:16 pm 4,046 20 Comments

It’s an annual tradition that helps honor our fallen heroes with some holiday spirit.

On Saturday morning more than 100,000 wreaths will arrive at Arlington National Cemetery. The wreaths will each be placed next to grave markers at the cemetery by teams of volunteers, and will remain there through the end of January.

It’s the biggest holiday wreath-laying yet, with more than three times more wreaths than last year. The wreaths are all funded by donations and shipped via tractor trailer from the Worcester Wreath Company in eastern Maine.

The wreaths will arrive at 7:45 a.m., when a parade of trucks reaches Arlington National Cemetery’s main entrance. That will be followed by an opening ceremony at the Memorial Amphitheater at 8:30 a.m., a helicopter flyby at 8:45 a.m., and the massive volunteer wreath-laying effort through 1:00 p.m. There will also be wreath-laying ceremonies at the Kennedy gravesite, the USS Maine mast and the Tomb of the Unknowns.

DoD photo via Wikimedia

  • TryTheTacos

    Gonna have to layer up for this one tomorrow morning!! If you go – bring gloves that you don’t mind getting a little sap on!

    • SomeGuy

      I might not have thought of that (re: the sap). That’s very good advice.

  • Ecumenical

    Are they going to be wreaths on the Jewish graves, too? I think that might be a breach of protocol.

    • ArlingtonChick

      Apparently participants are instructed not to place wreaths on the Jewish graves, but rather pause and remember the fallen soldier.

      • TGEoA

        Dont know why my comment got deleted. Leaving stones on Jewish graves is respectful and a tradition.

  • Susan

    Can anyone volunteer? Can I just show up?

  • Dan

    Yes just show up

    • Sfuss

      Excellent. Thanks!

  • Kym

    I am really excited as myself and my 2 children are coming out to volunteer for the first time!!

  • Jay Reeder

    I’m a veteran, and I plan on being buried at Arlington.

    Having said that, putting Christmas decorations on a grave seems a little … off.

    Color me skeptical about this new “tradition”. The volunteer effort would be better spent elsewhere, preferably on something that more directly benefits living people in need.

    • ang

      @Jay Reeder

      you just can’t please everyone. for many people, volunteering their time or making donations for this effort is as close as they might get to showing their support and letting families know that their loved ones are not forgotten and that we are honoring the fallen. read the story here; http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/about-us/the-arlington-story/ you might be surprised. the man who started this effort did so quietly and without fanfare in 1992. so this is not a new tradition. thank you for your service.

  • Mitchell

    This seems like a very nice gesture, and thousands of volunteers is meaningful. But who will remove 80,000 wreaths after the holiday season. Seems like a huge job to leave to someone. M.L.

    • Dan

      “But who will remove 80,000 wreaths after the holiday season. ”

      Volunteers as well……

      • yequalsy

        That’s correct. There’ll be a day in January when volunteers can come for clean-up. Anyone wanting to volunteer can contact Wayne Hanson at [email protected].

        • Shellshock

          The wreaths will be removed on January 28th.

  • Charles

    Too late – next year avoid this until they remove the monopoly given to the one company that is allowed to provide wreaths. In other words “free wreaths” translates into cheap national advertising for that company. Cynical of them.

    • Becca

      not everything is an advertising ploy. Perhaps you should read teh story behind this to see how it got started before jumping to conclusions.

  • Jess

    Also, the wreaths are not free. They are supported by donations.

  • HW

    Were they supposed to put wreaths on every grave? I went yesterday to my grandfathers grave and he did not have a wreath, yet some others around him did. Just wondering.

    • yequalsy

      There’s just too many graves. There are about 300,000 graves at Arlington. This year about 90,000 wreaths got distributed and I think that’s the record. They try to hit different sections every year but it doesn’t feel to me like it’s real systematic. For most of us it’s really a matter of going to whatever truck you come across and then going to the nearest area that isn’t covered. Sometimes the coordinators will urge people to do this section rather than that section but the direction really is minimal as a rule. Volunteers can and do go to specific graves that are meaningful to them. Sorry his didn’t get covered. I guarantee it was a just random thing and not intentional (unless he has a Star of David on his gravestone; we get told explicitly to not place a wreath on Jewish graves).


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