Wreaths Across America Honor Veterans - TribPapers

Wreaths Across America Honor Veterans

Photo by Benjamin Lehman.

Black Mountain – Every December, balsam wreaths are placed on headstones throughout the United States in many cemeteries by volunteers as a small gesture of gratitude for the freedoms we have and enjoy. Here in North Carolina, from the coast to the mountains, veterans were remembered and honored—from Wilmington, Charlotte, and Raleigh to Waynesville, Hendersonville, and Black Mountain. They were placed on December 17th in cemeteries across the state as part of National Wreaths Across America Day. According to Karen Worcester, Executive Director of the WAA, “over 2.7 million sponsored veterans’ wreaths were placed by volunteers at 3,702 locations across the country.” The 2022 theme was “Find a Way to Serve.”

Locally, individuals and organizations participated by placing wreaths at the Western Carolina State Veterans Cemetery in Black Mountain—the Buncombe County Republican Women’s Club, the Asheville Tea Party, and the Asheville Composite Squadron MAR-NC-019—are a few of the organizations that supported Wreaths across America. This year, the Joseph McDowell Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) was honored to help place 3,400 wreaths at the Western Carolina State Veterans Cemetery in Black Mountain. This organization is a lineage-based membership service organization for women who are directly descended from a person involved in the United States’ efforts towards independence. In addition, wreaths were placed in Haywood County at Green Hill Cemetery in Waynesville and at Upper Crabtree Cemetery. The event included a singing of the National Anthem and a flag presentation by the Pisgah High JROTC Color Guard. Phyllis Jones, who spoke at the ceremony, quoted Pierre Claeyssens in stating, “To be killed is not the worst that can happen. To be lost is not the worst that can happen. To be forgotten is the worst.”

Our nation’s heroes were remembered as each name was said aloud and honored as over two million volunteers, a third of whom were children, helped place more than 2.7 million veterans’ wreaths on the headstones of our fallen across the country.

Many American companies sponsor and participate in this event. Walmart donated the services of 16 tractor trailers to transport 100,000 veterans’ wreaths to participating ceremonies across the country as part of the company’s involvement in the National Wreaths Across America Day. Since 2011, Walmart has supported Wreaths Across America with over $3.3 million in cash and in-kind contributions, which includes more than $150,000 this fiscal year. Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) made a $240,000 donation to sponsor 16,000 veterans’ wreaths for placement at participating locations this National Wreaths Across America Day. Jersey Mike’s Subs, a fast-casual sub sandwich franchise with more than 2,300 locations nationwide, made a $300,000 donation and issued a challenge to help raise funds by matching the donation to sponsor veterans’ wreaths for placement at Arlington National Cemetery.

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery, located just across Memorial Bridge from the Lincoln Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, is one of two national cemeteries run by the United States Army. What has become known as the country’s longest veterans’ parade, Wreaths Across America’s annual “Escort to Arlington” – kicked off on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. The official route traveled down the East Coast, stopping at schools, memorials, and other locations along the way to spread the year-long mission to remember the fallen, honor those that serve and their families, and teach the next generation the value of freedom. Stops with public events were held in Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., before arriving at Arlington National Cemetery on the morning of Saturday, December 17th—National Wreaths Across America Day.

Chevrolet has generously provided the Wreaths Across America wrapped escort vehicles, transporting participating Gold Star families and veterans for the eighth year in a row. In addition, Chevrolet has also donated 4,000 veterans’ wreaths for placement at Arlington National Cemetery to help honor our nation’s veterans. What began as a pilgrimage by a Maine wreath maker in a single truck to deliver 5,000 wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery over 30 years ago has grown significantly to twelve tractor-trailers this year. Sponsored wreaths were needed to reach the goal of placing a wreath on every eligible marker at Arlington National Cemetery. When each wreath was placed, the service member’s name was said out loud to ensure his or her memory lives on. At Arlington National Cemetery specifically, 257,000 veterans’ wreaths were placed by more than 28,000 volunteers who came from all over the country. This is one small way to say “thank you” to all the men and women who have dedicated their lives and died serving our country.