It is written, that "for everything, there is a season" and the remembrance wreaths graciously placed on the headstones of our nation's fallen need to be respectfully removed by volunteers. Once again, dedicated individuals are asked to join in the effort to pick up the wreaths in honor of our veterans.
Wreath Retirement Day (clean up) is set for Saturday, January 28, 2017, at Arlington National Cemetery.
National Wreaths Across America Day 2016 was a remarkable event across the nation where many locations endured harsh weather conditions, and Arington National Cemetery was no exception. Despite freezing rain, an estimated 44,000 volunteers placed 245,000 remembrance wreaths, and many hands on January 28th will make quick work of picking up those wreaths.
"God willing, and the weatherman too, we won't have to postpone like we did last year when we got 23 inches of snow," recalls volunteer Location Coordinator at Arlington and Chairman of the Board for Wreaths Across America, Wayne Hanson. "Just dress appropriately for the weather and come out and join us for another experience at Arlington."
Wreath Retirement Day Schedule for Arlington National Cemetery:
8:00 AM: All Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) pedestrian gates open
8:00 AM: ANC Welcome Center Parking Lot opens (only vehicles with handicap permits and Permanent ANC Family Gravesite permits will be allowed to park in the Welcome Center. Parking is free until 3:00 PM.)
8:30 AM: Brief Volunteer Instructional Briefing at McClellan Gate located just off Eisenhower Drive between Section 33 and 12, on McClellan Drive
8:45 AM: Wreath clean-up begins
Wreath Retirement Day Notes:
- Volunteers are asked to pick up ONLY those WAA wreaths placed in December, leaving any other wreaths or decorations in place.
- There will be several dumpsters placed throughout the cemetery to dispose of the wreaths. There are a limited number of dumpsters available—please pack the wreaths as tightly as possible in the dumpsters
- We'd love it if our volunteers could stay at least until 12:00 Noon, to help with any extra wreath disposal needed at locations throughout the cemetery.
"The wreath-laying tradition of Wreaths Across America extends beyond our work in December," explains Karen Worcester, WAA Executive Director. "Retiring the wreaths in January is a big part of that process, and we see this as another opportunity for thousands of people to again come together to remember, honor and teach and say their names aloud."
"It was really hard because I couldn't hug her. As soon as she put her hand on the wreath, I started to cry, and I could tell she was starting to tear up."
In her keynote address, Karen Worcester thanked the UMA for the honor and shared a personal story of why Wreaths Across America does what it does. In a heartfelt and often tearful delivery, Karen told the story of Edith Knowles, a Gold Star Sister who lost her brother, Bud, during World War II.
I knew I had the contacts in the trucking industry," Barry explains of his initial involvement with the organization. "I just had to get people to believe in Wreaths Across America they way I did."
"She truly gets the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor and teach and how important it is to our families but most importantly the families of those who have served."
"When you see thousands of volunteers flood through the gates to lay wreaths, it does help restore your faith in America and that our country has not lost its core value of appreciating the sacrifice of our soldiers and veterans and saluting them while teaching the next generation how important it is to remember."
Taya says the best way to show appreciation and respect for military families is through simple gestures like the one Wreaths Across America's founder Morrill Worcester made back in 1992 when he laid the first hand-made balsam fir remembrance wreath on the headstone of a fallen hero in Arlington National Cemetery.
Her parents, Vernon and Regina Garner represented the true American dream. They were a young entrepreneurial couple creating a business to share with future generations of their family. Garner Trucking started in 1960 with one truck and has grown to over one hundred trucks and four hundred trailers today.
"With the most gentle little kisses using the very tip of his tongue like a little butterfly he licked the tears off my cheek as if he was saying, 'Mom, I've got you, don't worry I'm right here with you."
“We didn’t understand the scope of the effort though until we attended the event. The energy and enthusiasm for WAA was mind-blowing and we left with great contacts and started to formulate a proposal right away for the executive team to consider getting involved with the mission.”
"I was very determined to survive the war. I never thought I would not survive. If I had allowed myself to think that I would have been done. My big goal was to revenge my past but not with bitterness and vengeance."