On Patrol

Until every one comes home | The Magazine of the USO

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Thousands of volunteers gathered at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday to take part in Wreaths Across America. USO photo by Sarah KempThousands of volunteers gathered at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday to take part in Wreaths Across America. USO photo by Sarah KempMore than 110,000 wreaths were placed on graves at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday, part of the annual Wreaths Across America campaign. 

Though the nonprofit organization was chartered in 2007, its founder, Morrill Worcester, had been placing wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery for far longer. What began in 1992 as a wreath maker donating his surplus wreaths to Arlington has grown to more than 420,000 wreaths, provided by individual and corporate donors, placed at 825 cemeteries in the United States and overseas.

At Arlington on Saturday, the amphitheater was filled with approximately 20,000 volunteers. After a short welcoming ceremony, the volunteers spread themselves throughout the cemetery, lining up behind tractor trailers to receive arms full of wreaths. 

Some brought broom handles, so they could hold more wreaths. Some were there to place a single wreath on a family member’s grave. There were families with children in strollers, veterans on motorcycles, coworkers and beauty queens. There were sailors, soldiers, airmen and Marines.

Everyone was encouraged to take time to remember each person who is honored at that gravestone.

Another year is ready to close, yet through the efforts of thousands of volunteers on a chilly Saturday morning in December the men and women buried at Arlington National Cemetery have not been forgotten.