MARTIN (January 19) – In 2021, according to Wreaths Across America, more than 2.4 million veterans’ wreaths were placed by over 2 million volunteers on headstones at 3,137 participating locations around the country in honor of the service and sacrifices made for our freedoms, with each name said out loud.
Locally, Linda Smith, WAA Location Coordinator, gathered results in conjunction with co-coordinators Lee Smith, Eastside Cemetery, Martin; Sue Priest, Sunset Cemetery, Dresden and Linda Lofton, Beulah Cemetery in Union City. In 2021, more than 725 veterans’ wreaths were placed by more than 70 volunteers on headstones in these three cemeteries.
Smith, her co-coordinators, and members of the steering committee have already begun work for this year. Flags used to mark veterans’ gravesites at Eastside have been removed. On February 12 at 10 a.m. the wreaths at Eastside will be removed. An alternate date of February 26 at 1:30 p.m. has been scheduled in case of rain.
“Anyone interested in assisting with wreath pickup is welcome,” said Smith. “I am also looking for a way to utilize the wreaths after they are gathered. A recent article indicated that goats eat Christmas trees. If anyone in the area is interested in feeding the wreaths to their goats, please contact me by February 5.” In the past, the wreaths have been placed in the trash bins at Eastside Cemetery.
This year, National Wreaths Across America Day is Saturday, December 17, 2022. It is a free event and open to all people.
Each year, a new theme is chosen to help volunteers and supporters focus their messaging and outreach in their own communities. On Monday, January 17, 2022, Karen Worcester, executive director, Wreaths Across America (WAA), announced the theme for 2022. The new theme is “Find a way to serve.”
According to Worcester, the inspiration for this year’s theme came from a few different places and seemed to be a recurring conversation throughout the last year. Notably, the American Rosie MovementTM which highlights the stories of the World War II-era women known as Rosie the Riveters, or simply “Rosies.” These women pulled together to do the work that needed to be done for our service members and our country. “You don’t have to be in military service to serve your community and country,” said Worcester. “Serving others, or being in service to others, gives purpose and I’ve seen first-hand from Gold Star Families to Veterans, how it can help people heal.”
One of the stated missions of WAA is to teach, with focus on the value of our freedom and the importance of honoring those who sacrificed to protect those freedoms. In order to coincide with the new theme, WAA is revamping its educational curriculum. WAA is working with like-minded organizations to develop action plans to inspire young people across the country to find a way to serve in 2022 and beyond. Currently the curriculum includes videos and downloadable materials. These materials focus on the importance of veterans in American history and adhere to WAA’s threefold mission: Remember, Honor, Teach.
About Wreaths Across America
Wreaths Across America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded to continue and expand the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery begun by Maine businessman Morrill Worcester in 1992. The organization’s mission – Remember, Honor, Teach – is carried out in part each year by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies in December at Arlington, as well as thousands of veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond.
For more information or to sponsor a wreath, visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org or contact local coordinator Linda Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.