Every year for the past 25 years, Wreaths Across America has donated their time to placing a wreath on the headstone of fallen service men and women at Arlington National Cemetery. This year, however, the organization may fall short.
Donations are down this year and the organization only has enough wreaths to cover half the cemetery. What’s more, individuals can donate to pay for the wreath of a loved one who is interred at Arlington and other graves surrounding the specific wreath may go bare.
Wayne Hanson, chairman of Wreaths Across American, recounted when he met a man at Arlington National Cemetery who was visiting his son’s grave:
Three years ago, Hanson was placing a wreath for a special request in a section that had not been covered when he ran into a father visiting the cemetery who asked Hanson, “What about my son?”
“I said to myself, ‘How many other people come to Arlington and see these thousands and thousands of wreaths and there’s not one on their loved one’s marker?'” he said (Wreaths).
Thousands of volunteers donate their time to help place wreaths each year, and Wreaths Across America works hard to cover every grave, but if there are not enough wreaths, they coordinate with the cemetery to prioritize which sections should be covered first. This year, that may mean whole sections do not receive a wreath.
The wreaths will be laid out by volunteers at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as more than 1,200 locations across the country, on Dec. 17. Wreaths cost $15 and can be donated at wreathsacrossamerica.org.