ECW Weekender: Wreaths Across America

Remember. Honor. Teach.

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.

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.

Wreaths Across America – December 16, 2017.

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.

About Sarah Kay Bierle

I’m Sarah Kay Bierle, historian, editor, and historical fiction writer. When sharing history, I try to keep the facts interesting and understandable. History is about real people, real actions, real effects and it should inspire us today.
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5 Responses to ECW Weekender: Wreaths Across America

  1. M.B. Henry says:

    Which cemetery in SoCal participates in this event?

  2. Meg Groeling says:

    The cemetery at Historic San Juan Bautista also participates. Robert and I have given wreaths for years, and try to attend the ceremonies. I hope more folks reading this look for a way to give. One wreath is $15.00, which is not a lot. Sadly, there are only our offerings at San Juan so far. I hope your work here, Sarah, brings in a few more. Tell you what–I will write the WAA post next year (we can switch off) and we will see what we can drum up out here on our end of the nation. Huzzah!

  3. Pingback: ECW Week in Review Dec. 4-10 | Emerging Civil War

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