National Wreaths Across America Day has a simple mission: “Remember fallen U.S. veterans; honor those who serve; and teach your children the value of freedom.” This important day is an annual event that takes place every third Saturday in December at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as other cemeteries in the U.S., at sea, and abroad. Wreaths are laid as family and friends remember both those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and those who currently serve in the armed forces.
National Wreaths Across America Day timeline
- April 20, 2018
Wreaths Across America founders honored with Patriot Award
During a gala evening, the founders of Wreaths Across America received the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s Patriot Award — the highest award the organization can bestow on an individual during a special ceremony.
Wreaths Across America hit a milestone
Wreaths Across America laid its one millionth wreath at Arlington National Cemetery.
Major battle sites honored
Wreaths Across America coordinated a series of wreath-laying ceremonies at 750 cemeteries and major battle sites — including the Pearl Harbor Memorial, Bunker Hill, Valley Forge, and 9/11 sites.
- December 13, 2008
Congress recognized National Wreaths Across America Day
National Wreaths Across America Day came to life with a unanimous congressional vote.
Surplus holiday wreaths launched a patriotic tradition
When Karen and Morrill Worcester of Harrington, Maine discovered a 5,000-wreath surplus at their Worcester Wreath Company, they enlisted their senator's help to place the wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery as a patriotic gesture. This later became an annual tradition.
How to Observe National Wreaths Across America Day
Lay or sponsor a wreath
WAA has Location Coordinators who can direct you to a local cemetery or memorial wall for a wreath-laying ceremony. You can also sponsor a wreath for both living and deceased members of the military.
Sponsor a dog tag
WAA has a program to help you make or sponsor a dog tag in honor of a deceased veteran. You don't literally make the dog tags, but you may provide the written sentiment that WAA will then place on the tags. The dog tag with the veteran’s name is included, and you can physically place it on the gravestone during the annual ceremonies. You also have the option of requesting the dog tag be sent to the location of your choice where someone else can place the tag for you.
Post your remembrance on social media
Release your inner poet with sentimental words about your loved one, living or dead. Post your remembrance with fond pictures on social media. Speak of your pride and your sadness because there are so many others who will get comfort from your words and images. You never know whose heart you will touch.
4 Things You Didn't Know About Arlington National Cemetery
It belonged to a Confederate general's wife
After General Robert E. Lee’s wife lost the home because she couldn’t pay the taxes, the federal government seized the property and turned it into Arlington National Cemetery.
Former slaves had a village on the land
Abolitionists in 1863 helped establish a sanctuary for a group of former slaves on General Lee's former property, but evictions in 1900 made room for the new cemetery's incoming burial plots.
The JFK burial raised Arlington Cemetery's national profile
Arlington didn’t gain major recognition until after President Kennedy’s burial. His wife switched the site from Massachusetts to Arlington because she believed that her husband belonged to the people.
It's running out of space
Environmentalists and area residents are protesting an upcoming expansion involving the massive clearing of trees because it's projected that the cemetery will run out of room by 2025.
Why National Wreaths Across America Day is Important
It remembers those who died for our freedom
Placing wreaths on the graves of fallen military members is an amazing gift of remembrance. On Wreaths Across America (WAA) Day, there’s an annual wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery — where friends and family can pay a special tribute to the lives of the people who are buried there. Plus, there’s a Remembrance Tree program affiliated with WAA's Museum in Harrington, Maine. Gold Star families come together for fellowship — as well as to harvest balsam tips that are later turned into wreaths.
It honors those who currently serve
National Wreaths Across America Day picks an annual theme that inspires various activities. This year’s theme is “Be Their Witness” — reminding us of the importance of telling the stories of those who have died. The theme is based on the inspirational story of Michael Strobl, a Marine who served in the Iraq War. When one of his comrades fell to enemy fire, Lt. Colonel Strobl demonstrated amazing loyalty by escorting the body back to the Marine's hometown in Wyoming after the war.
It teaches young people the value of freedom
Wreaths Across America Day reminds children that freedom is precious. It's also important to pay homage to those who died protecting this country. WAA offers learning tools, interactive media projects, and provides opportunities for schools and youth groups to participate in a wide variety of informational and patriotic activities.