Emerging Civil War Hosts Fundraiser for Wreaths Across America

(Section of Winchester National Cemetery with wreaths. Photo by Sarah Kay Bierle)

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

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18 Responses to Emerging Civil War Hosts Fundraiser for Wreaths Across America

  1. John Stanley says:

    Unlike most places, the Gettysburg National Cemetary, for its first time in years, the National Park Superintendent will not allow the Sergeant Mac Foundation to lay wreaths. On a single day in December, the Sergeant Mack Foundation along with the Friends of Gettysbug and volunteers make approximately 16,000 wreaths for The Gettysburg cemetary, and for wreath laying at Quantico.

    • Brian Swartz says:

      Did the park superintendent explain why the Sergeant Max Foundation could not lay wreaths in 2022? Or did the super ban wreath-laying altogether?

      • John Stanley says:

        I don’t know what the rejection response was, only from what our group “Friends of Gettysburg” has posted fro the couple that applied.

  2. nygiant1952 says:

    I was under the impression that the Superintendent tried to prevent the wreath laying last year , but was stopped by Congress and the Department of the Interior.

    Are they trying to stop the wreath laying this year too?

  3. John Stanley says:

    Yes it was stopped.. The elderly couple that started the tradition for their son, notified the groups that he will not allow it this year, and are tired of fighting him for it.

    • nygiant1952 says:

      Would writing to our Representatives and tot he NPS help any? Or is this decision written in stone now?

      • John Stanley says:

        It couldn’t hurt, but the couple was turned down in their application for a NPS permit, and they are tired of fighting with him.

      • Brian Swartz says:

        Sounds like the Gettysburg NPS superintendent has a bad attitude – or perhaps he doesn’t want to bother with removing the wreaths after they fade.

      • John Stanley says:

        The wreaths are picked up by the same volunteer groups that place them.

  4. Jonathan Williams says:

    It’s a shame to hear that Gettysburg National Cemetery may not have wreaths this year.

    However, to focus back on the main topic of this post, it is nice to see people working to ensure there are more wreaths at Winchester National Cemetery!

  5. Brian Swartz says:

    Wreaths Across America is headquartered in Columbia Falls, about 70 road miles from where I live. The wreath distribution has expanded exponentially as people seek to honor their own veterans and the complete strangers who served our country.

  6. john B Haltigan says:

    This is a wonderful fund raiser. Can the EMCW web site place this at the top of the feed from time to time until 10/05 so as not to get buried in the scroll. Perhaps Wreaths Across America could work something out with Gettysburg NP.

  7. nygiant1952 says:

    I just called the office of the Congressman who represents Gettysburg in the House, John Joyce, MD. The couple behind the wreath laying are his constituents.

    The administrative staff member I spoke with was surprised to hear of the denial as this fight was fought last year. She assured me that she would pass this along to Representative Joyce, who did participate in the wreath laying last year.

  8. These wreaths and the luminaries that sometimes decorate the graves of Civil War soldiers are an important way to remember people whose descendants may have passed on or who themselves passed on before they could have descendants. Thanks for publicizing this worthwhile cause.

  9. Brian Swartz says:

    Thank you, ECW, for pursuing this honor for our heroes buried in Winchester. I placed this post on my Maine at War FB page and on Civil War Maine’s FB page.

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