National Wreaths Across America Day has a simple mission: “Remember fallen U.S. veterans; honor those who serve; and teach your children the value of freedom.” This important day is an annual event that takes place every third Saturday in December at Arlington National Cemetery and other cemeteries in the U.S., at sea, and abroad. Wreaths are laid as family and friends remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice and those who currently serve in the armed forces.
National Wreaths Across America Day Timeline
Surplus holiday wreaths launched a patriotic tradition
When Karen and Morrill Worcester of Harrington, Maine, discovered a 5,000-wreath surplus at their Worcester Wreath Company, they enlisted their senator’s help to place the wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery as a patriotic gesture.
December 13, 2008
Congress recognized National Wreaths Across America Day
National Wreaths Across America Day came to life with a unanimous congressional vote.
Major battle sites honored
Wreaths Across America coordinated a series of wreath-laying ceremonies at 750 cemeteries and major battle sites — including the Pearl Harbor Memorial, Bunker Hill, Valley Forge, and 9/11 areas.
Wreaths Across America hit a milestone
Wreaths Across America laid its one-millionth wreath at Arlington National Cemetery.
April 20, 2018
Honorary Patriot Award
During a gala evening, the founders of Wreaths Across America received the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s Patriot Award — the highest award the organization can bestow on an individual during a special ceremony.
How To Observe National Wreaths Across America Day
Lay or sponsor a wreath
WAA has Location Coordinators who can direct you to a local cemetery or memorial wall for a wreath-laying ceremony. You can also sponsor a wreath for both living and deceased military members.
Sponsor a dog tag
WAA has a program to help you make or sponsor a dog tag in honor of a deceased veteran. You don’t make the dog tags, but you may provide the written sentiment that WAA will then place on the labels. The dog tag with the veteran’s name is included, and you can physically put it on the gravestone during the annual ceremonies.
Post your remembrance on social media
Release your inner poet with sentimental words about your loved one, living or dead. Post your remembrance with fond pictures on social media. Speak of your pride and sadness because so many others will get comfort from your words and images. You never know whose heart you will touch.
4 Things You Didn't Know About Arlington National Cemetery
It belonged to a Confederate general’s wife.
After General Robert E. Lee’s wife lost the home because she couldn’t pay the taxes, the federal government seized the property and turned it into Arlington National Cemetery.
Formerly enslaved people had a village on the land.
Abolitionists in 1863 helped establish a sanctuary for a group of formerly enslaved people on General Lee’s former property, but evictions in 1900 made room for the new cemetery’s incoming burial plots.
The JFK burial raised Arlington Cemetery’s national profile.
Arlington didn’t gain significant recognition until after President Kennedy’s burial. His wife switched the site from Massachusetts to Arlington because she believed her husband belonged to the people.
It’s running out of space.
Environmentalists and area residents are protesting an upcoming expansion involving the massive clearing of trees because it’s projected that the cemetery will run out of room by 2025.
Why National Wreaths Across America Day Is Important
It remembers those who died for our freedom.
Placing wreaths on fallen military members’ graves is a fantastic remembrance gift. On Wreaths Across America (WAA) Day, there’s an annual wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery — where friends and family can pay a special tribute to the lives of the people buried there. Plus, a Remembrance Tree program is affiliated with WAA’s Museum in Harrington, Maine. Gold Star families come together for fellowship and harvest balsam tips that are later turned into wreaths.
It honors those who currently serve
National Wreaths Across America Day picks an annual theme that inspires various activities. This year’s theme is “Be Their Witness,” — reminding us of the importance of telling the stories of those who have died. The article is based on the inspirational story of Michael Strobl, a Marine who served in the Iraq War. When one of his comrades fell to enemy fire, Lt. Colonel Strobl demonstrated exceptional loyalty by escorting the body back to the Marine’s hometown in Wyoming after the war.
It teaches young people the value of freedom.
Wreaths Across America Day reminds children that freedom is precious. Paying homage to those who died protecting this country is also essential. WAA offers learning tools, interactive media projects, and opportunities for schools and youth groups to participate in various informational and patriotic activities.