Across the nation, volunteers are honoring military heroes one wreath at a time through a program dedicated to donating Christmas wreaths to be placed at graves of fallen soldiers across the nation. Wreaths Across America began in 1992, when a wreath-maker donated 5000 Christmas wreaths to be placed at graves at Arlington National Cemetery, and since then, the program has grown to more than 300 locations, including 10 in Indiana.
Dana Vann, the coordinator at the Indiana State Soldiers’ Home Cemetery in West Lafayette, said she gets a lot of satisfaction from the program.
“My son is actually buried at Arlington and that’s why I went out to start the project a couple of years ago,” said Vann. “I can’t go out there every Christmas so I do it here and I get a lot of satisfaction out of doing things for other veterans.”
Vann said that within the first year, they had enough sponsors to put a wreath at half of the graves, but she hopes in the coming years there will be enough donations to be placed at all the resting places of military members at the cemetery. Ceremonies will be held on Dec. 14 in each state and overseas, and she said the goal this year is to place 500,000 wreaths on the graves of veteran’s across the nation.
She said the project is all about remembering and honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the United States, but many graves at the cemetery in West Lafayette go unnoticed.
“There are wreaths at ones that, some of them, they go back to the Civil War. A lot of these graves are never visited by anyone, and this wreath that we place on their grave may be the first time they’ve had something placed on their grave in many, many years,” Vann said.
Vann said the wreath-laying ceremonies are held at noon the same day at each cemetery nationwide, and while many military families may not have a relative laid to rest there, they still participate.
“They had a father or brother or someone that served in the military and maybe they’re not buried there but they found that it’s kind of a tribute to them to come be part of our ceremony,” Vann said.
More information on the program can be found at wreathsacrossamerica.org.