After my dad died, I wanted to participate in something that supports and honors veterans. I found my way to a group called Wreaths Across America.
This link explains how it all started, and in a very small nutshell - a wreath company in Maine provides Christmas wreaths to various veterans cemeteries around the country so that local volunteers can place them on the graves of vets. The intent is to honor those who have served our country. In some cases, the wreath laying is the only time the graves are visited each year.
Originally I wanted to go to Arlington because that's where my dad will be interred this spring, but the reality of our schedule dictated that we choose a cemetery that was easier to get to and home from so we chose the Crownsville Veterans Cemetery near Annapolis.
At Arlington every grave gets a wreath. At other cemeteries they rely on donations so the number of wreaths varies from year to year.
I asked Bill's family if they wanted to join us since we'd be so close. His dad, brother and nephew were able to come.
Grandpop with the littles
They had a nice opening ceremony with buglers playing shadow Taps, a 21 gun salute and a representative from each service placing a wreath and saluting it.
The Army wreath
Afterwards we walked around the cemetery looking for boxes of wreaths to place. They encouraged everyone to linger at the gravesite they chose and read the name of the veteran.
Ella getting wreaths to hand to Grandpop and daddy
The kids took it very seriously. Reading names and choosing specific graves. It was very sweet to watch them.
I asked the kids to stand with the circle of wreaths and this is how they posed themselves. I was very proud of them.
We've sponsored a wreath in my dad's name for next year so we'll go to Arlington in 2013. Though I'm wondering about a grassroots effort to do something similar in our local cemetery. As Cub Scouts we work with the American Legion to put flags on veterans' graves for Memorial Day. I'm mulling over some sort of wreath project too....because I have so much free time and need another project, right? :D
You can check the Wreaths Across America website to see if there is a participating cemetery near you. If you can't physically attend to place wreaths, you can make a donation for a specific cemetery.