Millions of patriotic American citizens across the nation are preparing to place wreaths at veterans’ gravesites for Christmas.
Every year since 2008, Congress proclaims a Saturday in December as National Wreaths Across America Day. This year, it will be celebrated on Saturday, December 16.
According to Wreaths Across America (WAA), the nonprofit organization behind the annual wreath-laying effort, over 2 million volunteers are expected to place wreaths on veterans’ headstones at over 3,700 participating locations in all 50 states.
In 2022, over 2 million volunteers – a third of whom were children – placed 2.7 million wreaths at headstones nationwide. At Arlington National Cemetery alone, 68 tractor trailers delivered over 275,000 veterans’ wreaths that were placed by almost 28,000 volunteers.
One of those volunteers was U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
WAA was founded in 2007 to continue the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery begun by businessman Morrill Worcester, who donated the first 5,000 wreaths in 1992. The millionth wreath was placed at Arlington Cemetery in 2012.
In 2014, for the first time, every headstone at Arlington Cemetery received a wreath. The organization’s footprint has continued to expand, leading to the annual two-million-strong volunteer effort it is today.
Wreaths Across America’s mission is simple, yet profound:
Remember the fallen. Honor those who serve. Teach the next generation the value of freedom.
The organization encourages wreath-laying volunteers to say each veteran’s name aloud to remember the individual and thank them for their service. WAA hopes to ensure no veteran is forgotten.
The organization’s 2023 Theme is “Serve & Succeed.” It “plans to focus on the storylines of veterans and military families who have found success through their own service, while also highlighting local volunteers across the country and the success that comes from serving their communities.”
Karen Worcester, Executive Director of Wreaths Across America, says of this year’s theme,
There are many ways to serve your community and country, and just as many definitions of success. We hope through focusing on those stories of success we will help change the dialogue around what it means to serve your country.
You can watch a short video highlighting the work of Wreaths Across America here:
Wreaths Across America encourages citizens to get involved, which they can do through several ways:
- Help place wreaths on National Wreaths Across America Day in your local community.
- Sponsor a $17 wreath for a local veteran.
- Sign up as a sponsorship group and help place wreaths at a local or national cemetery of your choice while raising funds for your own group or program.
- You can also volunteer to coordinate a new location in your state to participate in the national remembrance ceremony.
Our nation can often appear intensely polarized and divided – and it is. But it’s good to know there are millions of patriotic Americans who will give of their time – going out in the cold each December – to honor those who have sacrificed so much for our nation and our freedom.
To all veterans and volunteers alike, we say a heartfelt thank you.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15: 13, ESV).
To learn more about Wreaths Across America or to participate on Dec. 16, you can visit their website here.
Veteran Chad Robichaux recently appeared on the Focus on the Family Broadcast episode “American Heroes: Serving on the Front Line.” He discussed his organization Save Our Allies, which works to rescue and save Americans, our allies, and those who are vulnerable. You can listen to the episode here.
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Photo from Shutterstock.