ARLINGTON, Va. - Despite the cold and the rain, thousands of volunteers came to make sure our country’s fallen heroes were honored with wreaths during the 2019 National Wreaths Across America Day at Arlington National Cemetery.
There was no mistaking what this meant to families whose loved ones are buried at Arlington National. One of those families watching volunteers flood the cemetery told FOX 5 they couldn’t interview without crying.
Volunteers laid wreaths on more than 253,000 headstones Saturday at Arlington National Cemetery. The cemetery was just one of 1,600 across the country receiving holiday wreaths.
Organizers tell FOX 5 around 60,000 volunteers worked in the rain last year to make sure military members and their families were remembered during the holiday season.
Lori Ensenhauer told FOX 5 she came up from North Carolina to volunteer. It’s her fourth time doing so.
“It is such a privilege and an honor to be a part of such an enormous event. I mean, it’s really priceless, you know,” Ensenhauer said. “We lay the wreath and we say their name and we say a prayer for them – and a tear because they gave their lives for us to do what we do right now: living and breathing and everything that we want to do.”
Wreaths Across America started in 1997, when Morrill Worcester of Maine was so touched by an earlier visit to Arlington National Cemetery that he decided donate about 5,000 to the cemetery.
“It really has been remarkable,” said Worcester, “They didn’t really know what to think of us at that time. You know, it was totally new and nobody ever asked to put wreaths on the grave. They didn’t know what was going to happen, so they kind of put us up on the corner just in case we messed up.”
“The mission is to remember, honor teach,” said Karen Worcester, Wreaths Across America’s Executive Director. “I think today there’s so much white noise that kids aren’t hearing what’s amazing about this country, about the people who stepped-up and sacrificed, about the families who sit down to their holiday dinner with an empty seat so we can be free and happy and do the things that we do … people say that freedom is paid for, but that’s not true. There are still people serving,”
A convoy of 18-wheelers carried the wreaths from Maine to Virginia. The non-profit also made stops by the Vietnam Memorial Wall and other monuments to pay tribute at memorials on the National Mall.
The wreath donations are made possible by sponsors.