Press Release – August 31, 2022
Every December across the United States, crowds gather quietly in national cemeteries to remember and honor the service and sacrifices by placing evergreen wreaths on the gravestones and saying the names etched there. Winchester National Cemetery in the northern part of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley takes part in this ceremony. Here, more than 5,500 service members are buried, many United States volunteers from the American Civil War. This year Emerging Civil War editors are hosting a fundraiser to help purchase and place more wreaths in Winchester National Cemetery, and all proceeds will be used for that purpose.
To show appreciation for donations to acquire more wreaths and to share history about Winchester National Cemetery, Emerging Civil War editors Jon Tracey and Sarah Kay Bierle are hosting a virtual history program on Wednesday, October 5, 2022. The $15 donation ticket to attend this exclusive event is the cost for Wreaths Across America to send one wreath to Winchester National Cemetery. The history program will include details about the cemetery, accounts and stories of some of the Civil War soldiers buried there, information about some of the state and regimental monuments located there, and time for questions and answers. Tracey and Bierle are donating their research time and presenting skills with the goal of fundraising enough to place at least 100 more wreaths at these soldiers’ graves in the Shenandoah Valley. (To make a donation and receive a virtual ticket for the history program, please visit https://bit.ly/ECW2022Wreaths)
The idea started in December 2021 as Jon Tracey walked through the cemetery at the end of that year’s Wreaths Across America ceremony. He noticed many gravestones of U. S. soldiers without the memorial holiday wreaths, and he commented sadly on the situation, wishing there was a way to place more wreaths. Tracey serves as the Editorial Committee Chairman for Emerging Civil War’s blog; he graduated from Gettysburg College and West Virginia University, and researches Civil War memory and veterans’ experiences. The following spring and summer Tracey and Bierle developed the idea of a virtual history program to fundraise and support Wreaths Across America.
For Sarah Kay Bierle, Wreaths Across America events are a long-time family tradition, but until 2021, she had not had the opportunity to place a wreath of a Civil War veteran’s grave. Bierle serves as Managing Editor for Emerging Civil War’s blog and has authored a nonfiction book about the battle of New Market which was fought in the Shenandoah Valley in 1864. She says it was an emotional moment to place a wreath on the grave of a fallen soldier from the 34th Massachusetts. Soldiers from that regiment fought at New Market and other battles in the Valley, and Bierle said she felt a connection of gratitude for their sacrifice and the privilege of researching and writing about their experiences.
For both Tracey and Bierle, their experiences at Winchester National Cemetery and their research interests prompted them to want to help this particular cemetery. Placing more wreaths, raising awareness, and sharing some lesser-known history are their goals to help inform and inspire another look at the layers of Civil War history in the Shenandoah Valley. “Taking a few moments to remember these fallen soldiers as we talk about them on October 5 and then place wreaths in December is important,” Bierle commented. “We hope others will join us in this endeavor to support Wreaths Across America and make it a meaningful, honoring experience.”
To make a donation to Emerging Civil War’s fundraiser for Wreaths Across America and attend the virtual history program, please visit: https://bit.ly/ECW2022Wreaths