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Holiday wreaths are headed out of Arlington National Cemetery this weekend

Wreaths on graves at Arlington National Cemetery (staff photo by Dan Egitto)

Arlington National Cemetery will lose some of its festive aesthetics on Saturday as volunteers remove holiday wreaths from the cemetery’s hundreds of thousands of graves.

Thousands of volunteers are expected to participate the annual “Wreaths Out” event, disposing of approximately 257,000 wreaths in Arlington as well as 14,000 wreaths at the Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery in D.C.

“We are grateful to our volunteers and community members who join us at Arlington National Cemetery for the annual tradition of removing wreaths. This is an honorable undertaking that we could not accomplish without your support,” said Army National Military Cemetery Executive Director Karen Durham-Aguilera.

Drivers and those coming to volunteer should expect traffic congestion and delays on nearby streets, Arlington National Cemetery said in a press release.

The Military Women’s Memorial will be handing out hot chocolate and hot cider to volunteers, who are encouraged to dress warmly and bring work gloves.

Cemetery roads will be closed to vehicles until 3 p.m., but the Welcome Center Parking Garage will be “open to the public at 8 a.m. on a first-come, first-served basis.”

No tram service will be available Saturday. Arlington National Cemetery recommends that visitors use either public transportation or a ride-share service.

Visitors may access the military cemetery at all four of its entrances. Members of the public can enter through the Memorial Avenue Welcome Center, the Ord and Weitzel pedestrian-only gate and the Service Complex pedestrian-only gate. People with Department of Defense IDs can also enter through the Old Post Chapel Gate.

Seasonal decorations honoring fallen service members appeared on Arlington headstones and columbarium niches on Dec. 16 at the annual Wreaths Across America event. That event often has substantial turnout, with some 30,000-40,000 volunteers expected in 2022.

More, below, from the press release.

All visitors must pass through the cemetery’s security screening process before entering the cemetery. Prohibited items include: large bags or backpacks, firearms and weapons of any type, laser pointers, aerosol containers, soda cans, coolers, picnic baskets, tripods, lighters, screwdrivers (or similar tools), air horns, personal protection sprays and insulated beverage containers. Clear plastic water bottles are permitted.

Guidance for Visitors

  • Give vehicles and heavy equipment the right of way.
  • Remove Wreaths Across America wreaths only. Leave all other wreaths/decorations in place.
  • Place wreaths in dumpsters positioned throughout the cemetery.
  • When dumpsters are filled, carry remaining wreaths to unfilled dumpsters. Please do not place wreaths outside of dumpsters or anywhere else in the cemetery.
  • Please follow instructions from staff to ensure the safety of visitors.

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