Volunteers to Remove Arlington Nat’l Cemetery Wreaths

by ARLnow.com January 25, 2013 at 1:30 pm 1,078 23 Comments

Wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery (via WreathsAcrossAmerica.org)Arlington National Cemetery is seeking volunteers this weekend to help pick up about 112,000 wreaths placed at grave sites last month.

The Dec. 15 wreath laying, an annual holiday tradition in its 21st year, involved some 20,000 volunteers. The cemetery is hoping to get another good volunteer turnout from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday).

From a military press release:

On Sat., Jan. 26, volunteers are picking up Remembrance Wreaths that were placed on approximately 112,000 gravesites at Arlington National Cemetery, as part of Wreaths Across America.

The event will occur regardless of the weather. Metro use is strongly encouraged due to limited parking. Information on the Metro system is available at: http://www.wmata.com.

Arlington National Cemetery’s Welcome Center will open at 7 a.m. for volunteers. Wreaths Across America leaders will brief volunteers on the cleanup plan at 8:45 a.m. at the Memorial Amphitheater. Visitors, including those with permanent passes, will not be permitted to drive to specific gravesites to visit loved ones until after the wreath cleanup at approximately 1 p.m. Volunteers should expect to stay until 1 p.m. to ensure the wreath cleanup is complete.

The ANC Welcome Center will open at 7 a.m. for volunteers but there will be no access to other locations within the cemetery until 8 a.m. There will be no vehicular access to the cemetery except through the gate to the parking garage until after the wreath cleanup at approximately 1 p.m.

Shuttle service will be available for a fee via ANC Tours by Martz.

Arlington will be accessible to pedestrians only from the following gates:
– Ord-Weitzel: south of the Netherlands Carillon and the Iwo Jima Memorial
– Main: Memorial Drive by the Women’s Memorial and Welcome Center entrance
– Service Complex: (south side) off Columbia Pike between the Air Force and Pentagon Memorials. This gate will close at 1 p.m.
– Fort Myer (northwest side, Fort Myer’s Old Post Chapel Gate) adjacent to the Old Post Chapel
– South Gate: Henderson Hall, Marine Corps Exchange/Service entrance. This gate will close at 1 p.m.

All vehicular access to the cemetery will be through the Welcome Center parking garage. Vehicular access into the cemetery will begin at 8 a.m. Family members with valid entry passes will enter the cemetery through the Welcome Center parking lot. Parking will be in designated areas only. Handicapped parking will be available in the Administrative Building parking lot.

Metro use is strongly encouraged due to limited parking. There are four Metro stops within a mile of a cemetery gate.
– Rosslyn: Orange & Blue lines (.7 mi) from Ord-Weitzel gate, via Iwo Jima Memorial
– Arlington Cemetery: Blue line – cemetery’s primary Metro stop
– Pentagon: Yellow & Blue lines – (.7 mi) access through south Service Complex gate
– Pentagon City: Yellow & Blue lines – (.9 mi) access through south Service Complex gate

* Wear gloves
* Bring a device to collect/hold multiple wreaths (such as a broom handle, rake, rope with a board tied to one end) * Wear comfortable walking shoes * Wear weather appropriate clothing

  • Melissa

    How do you sign up to help?

    • 1RLI

      Just be at the Memorial Amphiteater at 08:45. No sign up necessary.

  • Willy

    I can’t help but thinking there are much better things for volunteers to do. Those in the graves, depending on your belief system either don’t know about the wreaths, or don’t care, since they are beyond worldly things and in a much better place. I guess it helps some of the living feel better about themselves, but couldn’t they do something in the hear and now, to help, say living veterans?

    • drax

      Sure, you could.

    • AJR

      I’ve always been under the impression that it’s also a goodwill gesture toward the families who are spread out across the world and cannot visit/tend to the graves themselves. It should not be forgotten that those who lost their lives are not the only ones who have made a sacrifice.

      • James

        It is. Its for those that can’t make it but also to always let people know our fallen soliders will never be forgotten during cherished times.

        • AJR

          Agreed James, another great reason for the wreath laying ceremony.

          Regardless of the reasoning people have for volunteering, the beauty of volunteering is that you can pick your own cause. It doesn’t seem fair to begrudge others for their choice in volunteerism, Willy.

    • DCBuff

      Maybe before “thinking” you could learn a little about who is involved in this activity honoring our nation’s veterans. Active military, their families, veterans all participated in laying the wreaths and supporting this special way to remember the service to our country of so many.

    • Oh, Billy.

    • CrystalMikey

      There are plenty of opportunities like that if you’d like to partake. May I suggest the USO as a starting point?

    • yequalsy

      WAA gets asked this question all the time, which is why it’s in their FAQ:
      http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/about-us/waa-faq/. I could push your question to hyperbole and ask: Why have cemeteries? The dead certainly don’t care. The answer is that wreath laying, like cemeteries, is more about the living than the dead.

    • Alex

      Then go volunteer somewhere else. Thousands of people put these wreaths down before Christmas, and now they need to be picked up.

  • Andrew J. Bacevich

    Americans have fallen prey to militarism, manifesting itself in a romanticized view of soldiers, a tendency to see military power as the truest measure of national greatness, and outsized expectations regarding the efficacy of force. To a degree without precedent in U.S. history, Americans have come to define the nation’s strength and well-being in terms of military preparedness, military action, and the fostering of (or nostalgia for) military ideals.

    • YTK

      Yes there are many ways for a nation to demonstrate its greatness. My grandfather, uncle, and father all contributed to the US peace-keeping efforts in WWI and WWII and I honor their memories and visit their graves to thank them for their sacrifices. My grandfather died for his country.

    • Les Bergen

      This is just a request to remove wreaths at the nation’s premier cemetery honoring Service Members of all of our wars of the past 150 years, not some glorification of the military.

      Were it not for the U.S. military, much of the world would have fallen to tyrants starting in the 1930s. The fact that elected officials of one administration led by men who avoided service or went AWOL grossly misused the U.S. military in the past decade does not detract from that 70-year history of saving western civilization.

      It is sad beyond words that abuse of our troops cost us so many good men and women in Iraq. But we cannot afford to go isolationist.

      • drax

        I didn’t see his comment as disparaging the military, just noting that we tend to put too much emphasis on it and forget other ways people serve and other ways are country is great.

        Kind of an inappropriate place for his comment, but it wasn’t a negative one.

    • TheRhino26

      Without precedent? We’ve never defined our nation’s strength in terms of military preparedness, military action and the fostering of military ideals? Somebody missed the Rambo Red Dawn 80’s completely.

  • Runcie

    With the utmost respect to the people buried in the cemetary and their families, isn’t there a better use for the thousands of dollars 112, 000 wreaths must cost?
    How about a big wreath near the entrance and a large donation to veterans charities?

    • reactionary doosh

      Questioning anything that honors the military is forbidden. If someone wants to spend thousands on wreaths, or drive around on motorcycles and destroy your hearing all weekend, you’re a traitor for obejcting!

    • WestoverNative

      The wreaths were all donated. People can donate directly to WAA and sponsor wreaths to be placed. If you don’t want money spent on wreaths honoring vets, donate elsewhere.

  • WestoverNative

    And in case anyone wanted to know the history of WAA…


  • pdarl

    I wish this was posted earlier. I would have planned my day around it. I walk in the cemetery regularly and the wreaths are nice but starting to fall apart. They’re donated, BTW.

    • awesomepossum

      Good point. Why does ArlNow always post event notices the day before the event?


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