For many, those three words reflect their motivation for studying the American Civil War. Those three words are also the inspiration and rallying cry for an amazing organization called Wreaths Across America.
On a chosen day every December, citizens across our united nation gather in national cemeteries to place holiday wreaths, remembering the lives of American heroes. At a single moment all across the country, the wreaths are placed on the granite headstones and thousands of voices say the soldiers’ names.
Mark your calendars. December 16, 2017 is the chosen day for Wreaths Across America ceremonies this year.
In 1992, Worchester Wreaths had extra evergreen wreaths. The company president donated them to Arlington, and as the years went by, the tradition continued, supported by veteran foundations and private donations. In 2005, a photo of the wreaths in Arlington went viral on the internet and helped to launch the mission of Wreaths Across America – place a holiday wreath on every grave in every national cemetery. It’s a huge task. Fundraising, preparing the fresh wreaths, trucking them across the country, assembling volunteers, and preparing for the special ceremony.
I’ve participated in the Wreaths Across America for several years at a nearby national cemetery here in Southern California. It is a special and emotional event. One of the most awe-inspiring moments is when the wreaths are placed. Everyone tries to place the first wreath all at the same time to match thousands of others across the country. Wreaths Across America tradition asks the volunteers to say the name on the headstone as they place the wreath, using the principle that “A person dies twice: once when they take their final breath, and later, the last time their name is spoken.” As the wreaths are placed, veterans and their spouses are remembered and honored.
Karen Worcester – Executive Director of Wreaths Across America – explained, “We are not here to “decorate graves.” We’re here to remember not their deaths, but their lives.” In the busyness of the holiday season, it is good to take time to: Remember. Honor. Teach.
If you would like to participate in the wreath laying or financially support Wreaths Across America, please visit their website for location details and additional information.