(Updated at 10:50 a.m.) Thousands of volunteers will gather at Arlington National Cemetery later this month to honor veterans by laying wreaths at their graves.
The annual Wreaths Across America event will be held this year on Saturday, December 14, beginning with an opening ceremony at 8:30 a.m.
Volunteers are still being sought to help lay the wreaths, while the group that organizes the annual event is also seeking sponsors to help pay for the wreaths. As of today (Monday), more than 70,000 wreaths have been sponsored — just over a quarter of the 253,000 graves across the cemetery.
Similar to years past, cemetery officials are strongly recommending attendees use public transit to get to the wreath laying event. Because so many volunteers are expected, officials suggest using the nearby Rosslyn and Pentagon Metro stops instead of the cemetery station.
“The annual tradition provides another opportunity for visitors to honor the service and sacrifice of our service members, veterans and their families laid to rest within our hallowed grounds,” the cemetery said via social media.
More from an ANC press release:
The annual Wreaths Across America event will be held at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) and the Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery on Saturday, Dec. 14. The gates to these cemeteries will open at 8 a.m.
Volunteers should anticipate large crowds and difficulties with driving vehicles in the vicinity of Arlington National Cemetery due to road closures. To ensure the safety and security of its visitors, the cemetery has restricted personally owned vehicles from driving onto cemetery grounds during the duration of the event and is encouraging visitors to use Metrorail or Metrobus.
“We encourage volunteers to arrive early and recommend taking Metro to the Pentagon or Rosslyn stations and walking into the cemetery,” said Executive Director Karen Durham-Aguilera. “It’s a short 15-minute walk from these stations and the most seamless way to access our hallowed grounds on this special day.”
The Arlington National Cemetery gates – Main Entrance, South Gate and Ord & Weitzel -will open to the public at 8 a.m. All volunteers must pass through the cemetery’s security screening process before entering the cemetery.
Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall will be accessible to DoD ID card holders only; however, parking will be limited to the Tri Services parking lot located across from the Spates Community Center and Henderson Hall. Due to ongoing construction, the sole entry point to the cemetery from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall will be the Old Post Chapel Gate.
There will be a brief opening ceremony inside the cemetery at the McClellan Gate at 8:30 a.m. General wreath placement will also begin at this time with the exception of those trucks in vicinity of the opening ceremony. They will begin wreath placements no later than 9 a.m.
Use Metro to Access the Cemetery
Due to anticipated congestion at the Arlington Cemetery Station, Metro recommends volunteers exit via the Rosslyn or Pentagon stations and walk to the cemetery. From these locations it is a short 15-minute walk to one of the cemetery entrances. If exiting at Rosslyn, you must enter the cemetery via the Ord & Weitzel gate by walking along the North Meade Street sidewalks. If exiting at the Pentagon, you must enter through the cemetery’s South Gate entrance by walking along North Rotary Road.
Limited general public parking will be available at the Pentagon North and South Parking lots. There will be Wreaths Across America volunteers and signage positioned in the parking lots guiding visitors to walk to the nearest cemetery entrances. For those parking in Pentagon South Parking, recommend walking to the cemetery’s South Gate entrance for screening and entry to the grounds. For those parking in Pentagon North Parking, recommend walking to the cemetery’s main entrance on Memorial Ave. by using the Route 27 pedestrian walkway.
There will be additional parking lots available for volunteers at a reduced $7 per day rate, within walking distance to the cemetery. These garages are located at: 1616 Fort Myer Drive; 1300 Wilson Blvd.; and 1655 North Fort Myer Drive.
Family Pass Holders/Handicapped Placards
ONLY family pass holders and those with handicapped placards will be allowed to park in the ANC Welcome Center parking garage.
Instructions: Family pass holders and those with handicapped plates/placards will need to go to Pentagon North Parking where their pass will be verified. They will then be directed to the ANC Welcome Center parking garage. Once the parking garage is full, drivers will be directed to other parking options.
Note: This is a change from last year. There is NO pre-registration required for family pass holder parking this year.
Ride Share Drop-off Locations
For those volunteers who plan to arrive via a ride share (i.e. Uber, Lyft), the drop off location is the Hayes lot (599-549 Army Navy Drive). From this point, volunteers will need to walk to the cemetery’s South Gate entrance.
Photo via Flickr/Jeff Reardon