The project Wreaths Across America was started quite by accident toward the end of the 1992 holiday season, by Morrill and Karen Worcester. Having a surplus of wreaths on hand and realizing that an older part of Arlington National Cemetery receives fewer and fewer visitors with each passing year, Morrill and Karen laid their surplus of wreaths on the graves.
The project went on quietly each year until 2005, when a photo of the wreaths on the graves covered with a blanket of snow reached the Internet, thus bringing national attention to the project. That started thousands of requests to pour in from all over the country from people wanting to help lay wreaths at Arlington, or to bring the Arlington project to their local cemetery. The project is supported by NSDAR, various organizations and businesses across the United States.
On Saturday, Dec. 19, volunteers will lay 253,000 veterans’ wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery just outside our nation’s Capital. And here in Arizona, wreaths will be laid on veterans’ graves at our own National Memorial Cemetery on Cave Creek Road in Phoenix.
These wreaths symbolize a commitment to remember and honor our nation’s veterans and to teach our children about freedom through the laying of wreaths on the graves of our country’s fallen heroes. As each wreath is laid on a grave, the name of the veteran is spoken aloud, which is truly an honor for each volunteer, and, I might add, an emotional moment.
Our own Lesley Baran, Honorary Regent, Gila Butte Chapter, began participating in the ceremony in 2014. “The start of the event is signaled by a corps of veterans riding into the cemetery on their motorcycles, who then stand at attention along the main route as sentries to honor and protect sacred ground. Usually, there is a speaker, music, or a choir, then the wreath-laying ceremony begins. It’s an honor to participate. I think more people need to get involved and donate, as rarely are there enough wreaths to cover every grave.”
From the website of the National Memorial Cemetery, Phoenix, Ariz.: “This year, the National Wreaths Across America Day ceremony for our location will be held on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020. We are actively monitoring the requirements set forth by county health officials relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and will make necessary modifications to our ceremony plans and laying of veterans’ wreaths to ensure the safety of all who attend and participate. Please check back closer to the ceremony for updated information!”
For information about how to support this project or participate in this worthy cause, search the Internet: “National Memorial Cemetery, Phoenix Wreaths across America.” The wreath-laying ceremony is not conducted by the cemetery, so please do not contact the cemetery.
God bless all of you who have served our country, thank you all, and have a blessed Thanksgiving Day with as many friends and relatives you can gather.