More than 25,000 volunteers are expected to flock to Arlington National Cemetery tomorrow (Saturday, Dec. 13) to place wreaths on the graves of hundreds of thousands of veterans for the holidays.
The group Wreaths Across America, now in its 23rd year, hopes to place wreaths on all 230,000 graves in the cemetery this year.
An opening ceremony will be held at 9:00 a.m. at the McClellan Arch, and volunteers will begin laying wreaths at 9:30 a.m. Separate wreath laying ceremonies are planned at the President Kennedy gravesite, the USS Maine Mast and the Tomb of the Unknowns.
Instructions on how to volunteer and how to get to the cemetery (take Metro, don’t drive) are available on the Wreaths Across America website and in the video above.
Flickr pool photo by Sunday Money
Members of the non-profit group Wreaths Across America coordinated efforts not just here, but at cemeteries across the country. The organization’s website states: “Fresh evergreens are a symbol used for centuries to recognize honor, and a living tribute renewed annually. To use plastic wreaths that are put in storage each year is exactly the kind of tradition we want to avoid – it makes for great photos but misses the point… We want people to see the tradition as a living memorial to veterans and their families, whom we remember amid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. We believe that the sacrifices they made are more than worth the effort.”
The wreaths are currently on a solemn week-long journey from Maine to Arlington in what is sometimes referred to as “the world’s largest veterans’ parade.” The convoy stops at schools, monuments and veterans’ homes along the way as a reminder of the importance of remembering, honoring and teaching. Other trucks will head to participating cemeteries in all 50 states.
Donations can be made online through Thursday (December 13) for sponsoring wreaths to be laid on Saturday. A representative for the organization said “anyone and everyone is welcome” to show up on Saturday to assist with placing the wreaths. The convoy should arrive around 8:30 a.m. and volunteers are asked to arrive prior to the 9:30 a.m. opening ceremony and briefing. More information, a map and a schedule can be found online.
Last year, more than 15,000 volunteers spent nearly two hours placing around 90,000 wreaths. This year’s total of wreaths and volunteers is expected to exceed last year’s. The organization hopes to reach the 100,000 mark with wreaths this year.