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."
Especially meaningful is the location of the Grove, which is adjacent to the soon-to-be-opened Medal of Honor Remembrance Park. From this vantage point, The Old Guard will continue to stand watch over America’s fallen heroes.
Kevin says driving Armellini's load of wreaths in the escort to VA National Cemetery in Lake Worth along with the Walmart trucks is a meaningful experience for him emotionally because of honoring veterans, but he says there's also a more physical kind of excitement as a professional driver.
Starting at the end of this month, as we countdown to Wreath Day, we would like to invite you to appear on our national webcast/webinar series to tell us about the local veterans buried in your community. We will also run your interview on WAA Radio and share on social media and in the newsletter.
"If we don't teach this younger generation that freedom is not free they're going to forget and not understand the sacrifice made by these men and women who keep us free and safe. I don't know where this country would be if not for the brave people who step up and volunteer to serve in our military. It's really scary to think of where we'd be without a powerful military."
Thinking about Christmas during July provides us with the perfect opportunity to encourage others to get involved with our mission by sharing the stories of their hometown heroes while explaining, however, to those not familiar we're not "decorating graves."
We are humbled by the hundreds of thousands of people who get involved every year on National Wreaths Across America Day at Arlington National Cemetery and at over twelve hundred participating cemeteries in paying tribute to our veterans. One of those passionate and dedicated individuals is Ellen O'Neil Fuller.
Not only does Wade Gunter place a remembrance wreath on the headstone of a fallen service member at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC), he says their name aloud when he props it against the stone. It's what Wade does next that takes the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor, and teach to a higher level.
"We're very fortunate to find carriers, veterans, and non-veterans that want to participate in the program. We get drivers every year who call us to get involved."
From the white wigs to the tailored red coats every aspect of the United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps is designed with history and field music in mind. The unit was formed in 1960 and according to SFC Martin was originally made up of non-musician infantrymen, harkening back to the field musicians of the Continental Army.
"When it comes to Wreaths Across America, we don't do what we do for the applause of men; we do it because of how important it is to the Gold Star families we've connected with over the years."