Tens of thousands of volunteers will again head to Arlington National Cemetery later this month to honor veterans’ graves with wreaths this holiday season.
The annual Wreaths Across America ceremony will take place on Saturday, December 16, as part of a nationwide effort by the nonprofit to lay wreaths at veterans’ gravesides.
Organizers hope to lay a wreath at all 245,115 veterans’ graves at Arlington National Cemetery. And according to its website, more than 29,000 volunteers have already committed to laying more than 196,000.
Anyone who wishes to volunteer can sign up online, and anyone wishing to donate to sponsor a remembrance wreath can do so, to honor a veteran, alive or dead, or to have a wreath placed at a specific marker.
The opening ceremony for the day of wreath-laying begins at 8:15 a.m. From the event website:
For those wanting to observe the arrival of the Wreath Truck Convoy, which will arrive at approximately 7:45 a.m. on Saturday, ANC will begin their screening process at 7 a.m. at the ANC Welcome Center. Those screened early will be directed to holding areas near the Opening Ceremony location which will be held in front of the Women In Military Service for America Memorial at the end of Memorial Drive starting at 8:15 a.m. All gates into Arlington Cemetery grounds will be opened to the general public at 8:30 a.m. after all Wreaths Convoy Trucks have been staged. Wreath placement will begin at 9:15 a.m.
If you are interested in attending, there will be special wreath layings conducted at the Columbarium at 10 a.m.; at the President William F. Taft Monument in Section 30 at 10:30 a.m.; at the President John F. Kennedy Memorial in Section 45 at 11 a.m.; at the USS Battleship Maine Monument in Section 24 at 11:30 a.m.; and a formal Wreath Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at 12 p.m. (noon).
The cemetery’s welcome center garage will open at 7 a.m. that day, but only those with an authorized ANC Family Pass and vehicles with valid Handicap Permits will be allowed to park there. Metrorail will open at 7 a.m. that morning, and organizers are encouraging attendees to take the train to the Arlington National Cemetery Metro station instead of driving.
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Art Thief Arrested in Arlington — Convicted art thief Marcus Sanford Paton was arrested outside the new Pentagon City Starbucks on Fern Street Sunday. He’s accused of driving a stolen car from Miami to D.C. to try to seek a presidential pardon. [Daily Mail]
Wreath-Laying Ceremony at ANC — President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Pence will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery around 3:30 p.m. this afternoon, kicking off the inaugural weekend. Afterwards, they will make an appearance at a “Make America Great Again” concert at the Lincoln Memorial. As a result of the inaugural activities, Memorial Bridge was closed at 4 a.m. this morning and will not reopen to vehicular traffic until after the inauguration. [Presidential Inaugural Committee, Newsweek]
Another Win for Arlington Jeopardy Player — Arlington resident John Avila has now emerged as the Jeopardy champion three nights in a row. He will try to make it four in a row tonight. [Sun Chronicle]
Walking Causing Escalator Problems? — The frequent escalator breakdowns in the Metrorail system are well known, but what causes it? It might be uneven wear caused by people standing on the right and walking up the escalators on the left, experts say. [Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle]
A man has been charged with vandalizing the wreath placed during Arlington’s 9/11 memorial ceremony.
The incident happened in Courthouse just after 11 a.m. on Sunday, shortly after the ceremony.
Police say 51-year-old Charles Harris removed flowers from the wreath and left the petals on the sidewalk. He was charged with the crimes of Injuring a Memorial and Drunk in Public.
From an Arlington County Police crime report:
INJURING A MEMORIAL, 160911022, 1500 block of N. Courthouse Road. At approximately 11:16 a.m. on September 11, police were dispatched to the report of a subject destroying the 9/11 Memorial Wreath used during the County’s September 11 Observance. Upon arrival, officers observed the subject removing flowers from the wreath and discarding petals on the sidewalk. Charles Harris, 51, of No Fixed Address was arrested and charged with Injuring a Memorial and Drunk In Public. He was held on a $1,000 secured bond.
Gates open to the public at 8 a.m. Saturday and an opening ceremony is planned at 9. The wreath laying is expected to begin at 10 a.m., followed by a closing ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at noon.
Metro says it will be operating on a normal weekend schedule Saturday morning, but all Blue Line trains — which service the Arlington Cemetery station — will be eight cars long in order to accommodate as many riders as possible.
“Arlington Cemetery Station is one of the smallest on the Metrorail system and can be expected to become crowded before and after the event,” Metro said on its website. “During peak crowding times, Arlington Cemetery escalators may be configured as ‘exit only’ before the event and ‘entry only’ after the event. Customers traveling in the reverse direction will be directed to station elevators.”
Metro riders should consider getting off at the Rosslyn station, from which Arlington National Cemetery is “a short walk to the south,” the transit agency suggested. Free shuttle buses will also be provided from the Pentagon Metro station to the cemetery.
Flickr pool photo by Jeff Reardon
Wreath Shortfall Projected for Cemetery — Wreaths Across America projects it will be 30,000 short of its goal of 230,000 wreaths to place on graves at Arlington National Cemetery this year. The organization is hoping more donors step up before its fundraising deadline tomorrow. [Fox News]
Arlington Ranks No. 2 for Roommates — Among major U.S. localities, Arlington ranks No. 2 for having the highest percentage of adults living with roommates. According to the website, 23 percent of 18-39 year olds in Arlington live with a roommate. That compares to 21 percent for the No. 4 city, Washington, D.C. [Priceonomics via Greater Greater Washington]
Barbershop Chorus to Sing at Metro Stations — The Arlingtones, a barbershop chorus, will be performing barbershop music at three local Orange Line Metro stations this month. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
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.