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‘Wreaths Across America’ event returns next week

Wreaths on headstones at Arlington National Cemetery on Dec. 24, 2019 (Staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The annual Wreaths Across America event is returning to Arlington National Cemetery next week.

The event will take place next Saturday, Dec. 16, starting at 8 a.m. Members of the public are invited “to lay wreaths at headstones and columbarium niches throughout the cemetery to honor and remember our nation’s service members this holiday season.”

Some 30,000-40,000 people were expected to attend last year’s event. The crowds make getting to the cemetery a bit challenging and preclude parking at the visitors lot for most people.

More on the event and how to get there, below, from an Arlington National Cemetery press release.

Arlington National Cemetery is privileged to invite the public to lay wreaths at headstones and columbarium niches throughout the cemetery to honor and remember our nation’s service members this holiday season.

On Saturday, Dec. 16, the annual Wreaths Across America (WAA) event will be held at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) and the Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery (SAHNC). ANC will open to visitors at 8 a.m., and SAHNC will open at noon.

“We are honored to uphold this beautiful tradition by providing the public with an opportunity to lay wreaths at the graves of those laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery this holiday season,” said Executive Director of Army National Military Cemeteries and the Office of Army Cemeteries Karen Durham-Aguilera.

Our top priority is the safety and security of our visitors and employees during this event. Visitors should anticipate large crowds and difficulty driving vehicles in the vicinity of Arlington National Cemetery due to road closures. All visitors must pass through the cemetery’s security screening process before entering the cemetery.

No vehicular traffic will be permitted inside the cemetery on Dec. 16, and there will be no vehicle parking for the public in the ANC Welcome Center parking garage except for handicapped and family pass holder visitors (see below). We recommend visitors use public transportation or a ride share service for travel to and from the cemetery.

“To ensure the safety of our visitors on this special day, we encourage those attending to plan ahead to ensure a seamless visit,” said Superintendent Charles “Ray” Alexander. “Visit our website and follow us on social media for event updates and more information.”

Event Details

  • The Arlington National Cemetery entrances – Memorial Ave., Ord & Weitzel Gate, Service Complex Gate (located on Columbia Pike near the Pentagon) and Old Post Chapel Gate (DoD ID cardholders only) – will open to the public at 8 a.m.\
  • All visitors must pass through the cemetery’s security screening process before entering.
  • Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall (JBM-HH) will be accessible to DoD ID card holders only; however, parking will be limited to the Tri-Services parking lot located across from Spates Community Center.

Using Metro to Access the Cemetery

Visitors are encouraged to use metro transportation to access the cemetery. The Arlington Cemetery metro stop will take visitors to the main Memorial Ave. entrance. There are additional access points via the Rosslyn or Pentagon stations. It is an approximately 15-minute walk from these locations to one of the cemetery entrances.

  • For those exiting the metro at the Rosslyn stop, please enter the cemetery through the Ord and Weitzel Gate.
  • For those exiting the metro at the Pentagon stop, please enter the cemetery through the Service Complex Gate.

Visitors traveling by Metro are encouraged to purchase fare ahead of time. To avoid lines, the best option is SmarTrip mobile pay:

Pentagon Parking

The Pentagon North and South Parking lots will have limited public parking. Wreaths Across America volunteers and signage will be positioned in the parking lots to guide visitors to the nearest cemetery entrances.

  • For those parking in Pentagon South Parking, we recommend walking to the cemetery’s Service Complex Gate entrance for screening and entry to the grounds.
  • For those parking in Pentagon North Parking, we recommend walking to the cemetery’s main entrance on Memorial Ave. or catching the shuttle to the Pentagon South Parking and walking to the cemetery’s Service Complex Gate entrance.

Handicapped Placards/Family Pass Holders

  • ONLY those with handicapped placards and family pass holders will be allowed to park in the ANC Welcome Center parking garage between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m.
  • Those with handicapped plates/placards and family pass holders must go to Pentagon North Parking, where their pass will be verified. They will then be directed to the ANC Welcome Center parking garage. After 7 a.m., drivers will be directed to other parking options.

Ride Share Drop-off Locations

For volunteers who plan to arrive via ride share (e.g., Uber, Lyft), the drop-off location is the Hayes Lot in Pentagon City (880 Army Navy Dr.). From this point, visitors must walk to the cemetery’s Service Complex Gate entrance.

Family Pass Holder Day

Arlington National Cemetery invites family pass holders to privately place a wreath at their loved one’s grave on Dec. 10, ahead of National Wreaths Across America Day on Dec. 16. Please note that this event is for visitors with a valid ANC family pass only.

Stay Up to Date

For the latest information and event details, please visit and follow us on social media @ArlingtonNatl for real-time updates on the event day. Visitors are also encouraged to download the ANC Explorer mobile app, which is available for iOS and Android.

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