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National Wreaths Across America Day: A Tradition to Remember, Honor, and Teach

Table of Contents
What is Wreaths Across America Day?  
The History Behind Wreaths Across America
The Iconic Photo That Started a Movement
The Power of a Tradition
Transcending Borders and Branches
How to Participate

While the holiday season brings joy to many, it can also serve as a painful time for veterans’ families that have lost a hero who made the ultimate sacrifice.

At Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP), we honor the sacrifices military members and their families make every day. WWP programs help warriors grieve their fallen comrades and help families keep the legacy of their loved ones alive.

The nonprofit Wreaths Across America shares this sentiment by leading National Wreaths Across America Day.

Read below to learn more about this incredible effort, how this annual observance came to be, and why WWP warriors find the tradition so meaningful.

What is Wreaths Across America Day?

National Wreaths Across America Day is on the second or third Saturday of December. The entire day is devoted to helping lay holiday wreaths on the graves of our nation’s fallen veterans.

With the help of dedicated volunteers, veteran wreath-laying ceremonies take place at Arlington National Cemetery and additional locations across the country and overseas.

Each wreath is handmade in Maine using balsam fir, all sourced from domestic suppliers. Wreaths Across America is deliberate when choosing the quality of each wreath, as each serves as a meaningful tribute to “those who made sacrifices that can never be repaid.”

Transportation partners known as the “Honor Fleet” then transport the millions of veteran wreaths across the country.

The History Behind Wreaths Across America

The Mission of Wreaths Across America
“Remember the fallen. Honor those who serve. Teach the next generation the value of freedom. Our volunteers are the beating heart of the program and work year-round to share this important mission and inspire others to join.”

Morrill Worcester, founder of Wreaths Across America and owner of Worcester Wreath Company, won a trip to Washington, DC, at a young age. The trip left an incredible impression on him and his appreciation of veterans.

Many years later, in 1992, after Morrill found his company with a surplus of holiday wreaths at the end of the season, the impact of his trip to the nation’s capital returned. He placed the extra wreaths on the graves in one of the older sections of Arlington National Cemetery.

With the help of individuals and organizations, it became an annual tradition. It continued quietly for several years until 2005 when a photo of the work circulated on the internet.

The Iconic Photo That Started a Movement

National attention to this annual tribute came quickly after a snowy day in Arlington, Virginia – displaying the striking contrast of the wreaths against the white snow and stone of each grave.

The overwhelming amount of interest prompted the formation of Wreaths Across America as a nonprofit.

The following year, in 2008, the organization had over 300 cemeteries participate in every state, Puerto Rico, and 24 overseas locations. At these locations, the organization helped place more than 100,000 wreaths with the help of 60,000-plus volunteers.

After these accomplishments, the U.S. Congress unanimously voted to create National Wreaths Across America Day.

The Power of a Tradition

The power of this tradition can be seen by those who volunteer their time to support it. Their actions may seem simple, but this tradition provides an incredible sense of connection when surrounded by an empowering community.

Every year, WWP holds events nationwide in recognition of National Wreaths Across America Day. Events are hosted through the Alumni Connection Program, which offers no-cost social connection events to registered warriors, their families, and caregivers.

 “[The event] is really a great connector among people,” said Nazli Sherman, WWP outreach specialist. “The very idea of it strips away everything that might make someone different: there are no genders, no colors, no races, no politics … it’s just people honoring the fallen and their service.”

Bree Shields, another WWP outreach specialist, believes this event allows us to slow down during the holiday season and remember what is truly important. “Our nation’s warriors have never lost their heart of service. It is important to our community that we keep the memory of brothers and sisters who have passed alive,” she said.

“I have been volunteering since 2005 when my coworker invited me for an office event,” said WWP warrior Amelia Rykard. “It’s truly amazing to see the groups of people who gather for this event. Veterans, civilians, and children brave the cold, rain, and snow to pay their respect and admiration. I will continue to support this event until I can no longer.”

The involvement of family is another important component of this tradition. “My sister and my son both joined me,” said Daisy Vasquez, who has volunteered multiple years in a row. “It was a very emotional experience to be a part of and being able to show my family that even long after serving, we don’t forget our fellow veterans.”

Transcending Borders and Branches

Through WWP’s Alumni Connection Program, registered warriors have been able to transcend borders and branches to give support, receive support, and continue to serve – and events like this help veterans connect, warrior to warrior.

“I am always taken aback by how huge the hearts are of our veterans and their families [during this event],” said Bree. “They’ve served, and many of them have incredible stories of hardship and perseverance, but they still wake up knowing that they were put on this earth to continue to serve even if their time of service is over. It is incredible to witness.”

Wreaths Across America started by wanting to say thank you to our nation’s fallen heroes and teaching the value of our freedom.

There is a story behind every name, and, as Wreaths Across America encourages, saying these names aloud helps to remember the sacrifices made to our country.

Honoring these lives during such a special occasion allows the veteran community to have the space to cope, support to heal, and the connection needed to know they are not alone – and will never be forgotten.

How to Participate

Visit the Wreaths Across America website to search for ceremony locations. You can also get involved by sponsoring events at specific cemeteries.

For more information, visit Wreaths Across America. To register for WWP’s free programs and services , visit our website.

Contact: Kendra Hand – Public Relations,, 904.776.7099

About Wounded Warrior Project
Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.

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