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."
"We have a dedicated group of compassionate people who come together to help military veterans," Rebecca explains. "If someone reaches out to us and says 'hey we need help getting a veteran's roof shingled' then we try to get it done."
“Every year we have so many professional drivers, bikers, police officers and other first responders, ask us how they can get involved, even if they can’t transport wreaths,” said Karen Worcester, executive director, Wreaths Across America.
"There are a lot of similarities between the military and the trucking industry," Rob explains. "I think that's why you see a lot of veterans successful as truck drivers."
Johnny Vet: Freedom Isn’t Free is a dynamic and inspirational musical journey of the men and women who have fought the nation’s wars and how those same men and women, as veterans, have helped to shape the nation and its destiny.
"History can be studied in many ways, and it's important to do so for a contextual understanding of the journey taken by an individual, organization, or nation."
"It's heart-wrenching to see that and participate in that, Rick shares. "To see all the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, and uncles waiting there to have a wreath to place on their family member's headstone, there are just no words for it, none."
"We're just Moms who serve through the organization to make sure that our children's names and lives are not forgotten."
From our standpoint, it's a relatively small thing to do, and we're proud to be a part of the mission."
"With NFI managing the logistics, the sky is the limit. They will help make the entire operation more efficient,” said Debbie Sparks, Director Corporate Development and Community Relations, Wreaths Across America.
Luann started her volunteer efforts with Wreaths Across America in 2015 after hearing about it from a friend who was participating with her DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) group. She's working to sponsor wreaths to cover all of the known heroes laid to rest at Oaklawn.