ARLINGTON, VA – On Saturday, December 14th, 38,000 volunteers gathered at Arlington National Cemetery, where they laid over a quarter million Christmas wreaths at the graves of America’s military heroes buried there.
The project was part of a day-long, nationwide event sponsored by Wreaths Across America “To Remember the fallen, Honor those that serve and their families, and Teach the next generation the value of freedom.”
Volunteers across the entire country placed a total of 2,200,000 wreaths at the headstones of American heroes in more than 2,100 cemeteries.
Every one of the 2.2 million wreaths was donated and each person who laid them was a volunteer. Nearly 600 tractor-trailer truckloads delivered the wreaths to their appointed destinations. Even trucks and the fuel needed to accomplish the task were donated by volunteers.
While many carried out their mission at cemeteries in or near their hometowns, others traveled long distances to participate in special places like Arlington. One volunteer at Arlington from Maine explained that the sight was “breathtaking.”
Why do so many Americans volunteer to make this annual project possible?
“In many homes, there is an empty seat for one who is serving or one who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. There is no better time to express our appreciation than during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season . . . to show our veterans and their families that we will not forget.”
The Wreaths Across America project is not the fruition of a dream. It is the result of planting a single seed in 1992. The Worcester Wreath Company was nearing the end of the season with an overstock of product. As Morrill Worcester pondered what to do, he recalled his first visit to Arlington National Cemetery as a boy. It left an indelible imprint in his mind just as it does for everyone who has shared the privilege of a visit there.
He decided to donate the overstock wreaths to the cemetery, especially to be placed at the older section where visitors were becoming rare.
The tradition continued somewhat unnoticed until 2005. During that Christmas season, someone posted a photo of the wreaths in place on social media. The image went viral.
“Thousands of requests poured in from all over the country from people wanting to help with Arlington, to emulate the Arlington project at their National and State cemeteries, or to simply share their stories and thank Morrill Worcester for honoring our nation’s heroes.”
In 2007, the Worcester family founded Wreaths Across America. Seven years later, the national network of volunteers included more than 2,000 fundraising groups and helping hands. The special day had expanded from Bunker Hill to Pearl Harbor. 2014 was also the first year that the group met its goal of placing a wreath at every marker in Arlington.
Wreaths Across America Day volunteers willingly offer their small sacrifice in gratitude tor the sacrifices the heroes in Arlington paid to preserve our freedoms.
To read more news on Christmas on Missions Box, go here.
- CBN News, 38,000 Volunteers Place 254,000 Christmas Wreaths at Arlington
- Wreaths Across America, website
- WTOP, ‘Breathtaking’: Wreaths Across America volunteers honor service members at Arlington
- Wreaths Across America, Facebook