Every year on what is designated by Congress as National Wreaths Across America Day, the goal to Remember, Honor and Teach about military veterans is carried out by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as at more than 2,500 additional locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea and abroad.
On Dec.18, at 9 a.m., Wreaths Across America will be at cemetery locations across the state, to remember and honor veterans through the laying of Remembrance wreaths on the graves of our country’s military veterans.
Sue Carlton, vice regent of the Sweetwater Chapter of Daughters of American Revolution (DAR), is very involved and was contacted by phone.
Carlton said the Sweetwater Chapter of DAR is affiliated primarily with the Georgia National Cemetery (GANCCA) in Canton at 1080 Veterans Cemetery Road, which lists 16,100 vets interred.
The WAA goal of ‘remembrance, honor and teach’ aligns with that of the DAR Carlton said, “... to honor the men and women who achieved American independence and promote the development of an enlightened public opinion and sponsor patriotic citizenship.”
The laying of wreaths ceremony is a deliberate process done respectfully and not brusque, or as an afterthought, Carlton explained.
“The wreath is laid and that veteran’s name is said aloud with their service. Then the volunteer will step back and pause for a moment. If that volunteer is military, they may also salute,” she said.
“We’re also involved at the Marietta cemetery,” Carlton said.
Many there at Marietta are Civil War. According to Congress, all from the Civil War are veterans, Carlton said.
In addition to Canton, there are five other Georgia cemetery locations involved and listed on the WAA website at www.wreathsacros america.org, including West Georgia Memorial Park at 4194 Carrollton Villa Rica Hwy. in Carrollton.
And according to the WAA website information,
“If you don’t see a location near you, Wreaths Across America will support you in becoming a Location Coordinator for a cemetery in your area. There is no cost to become a participating location and host a Wreaths Across America ceremony.”
The story behind how the program came to be is also provided at the WAA website.
“The donation of wreaths from the Worcester Wreath Co. of Harrington, Maine, began as a personal tribute from the Worcester family to military veterans who gave their lives for this country. The family quietly made these wreath donations to Arlington National Cemetery for nearly 15 years before a photo set them on a path they hadn’t dreamed about.
The photo — of the company’s wreaths at Arlington covered in snow — went viral in 2006. Shortly thereafter, the Worcester Wreath Co. began receiving unsolicited money from people who wanted to participate by sponsoring wreaths themselves. Because there was no mechanism in place for the family to accept the donations, money was returned to donors.
In 2007, the Worcester family, along with veterans, and other groups and individuals who had helped with their annual veterans’ wreath ceremony in Arlington, formed Wreaths Across America, a non-profit 501©(3) organization, to continue and expand this effort.
In 2008, over 300 locations held wreath-laying ceremonies in every state, Puerto Rico and 24 overseas cemeteries. Over 100,000 wreaths were placed on veterans’ graves. Over 60,000 volunteers participated. And that year, Dec. 13 was unanimously voted by the U.S. Congress as “Wreaths Across America Day.
In 2014, Wreaths Across America and its national network of volunteers laid over 700,000 memorial wreaths at 1,000 locations in the U.S. and beyond, including ceremonies at the Pearl Harbor Memorial, as well as Bunker Hill, Valley Forge and the sites of the Sept. 11 tragedies. This was accomplished with help from 2,047 sponsorship groups, corporate contributions, and donations of trucking, shipping, and thousands of helping hands. The organization’s goal of covering Arlington National Cemetery was met in 2014 with the placement of 226,525 wreaths.”
While coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies in December is a big part of what WAA does, their mission is carried out throughout the year. From the Remembrance Tree program to the Wreaths Across America Museum in Maine, there are many different ways to get involved. WAA also participates in veterans’ events throughout the year, and has a veteran liaison on staff to work with local veterans organizations.
The deadline for donations is Nov. 30. Anyone who cares to make a donation locally can do so by visiting https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/pages/45270 or calling Sue Carlton at 404-502-6611.