Cemeteries across the country are getting all dressed up for Christmas. NAMES IN STONE wants to share a few of those stories with you!
NATIONAL WREATH PROJECT
The National Wreath Project, sponsored by the Sgt Mac Foundation, honors veterans by decorating their graves with beautiful wreaths. The decorations are obtained through donations and placed by volunteers.
In its fourth year, volunteers for the Project laid 1,620 wreaths on graves in Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, and 3,400 in Quantico National Cemetery located in Virginia.
The Sgt Mac Foundation was started by the family of Marine Sergeant Jonathan Eric McColley, a 23-year-old soldier who was killed in a helicopter accident in 2006 off the coast of Djibouti.
In 2008, the wreaths were decorated by third graders from Sergeant McColley's elementary school in Gettysburg. Read more about the National Wreath Project and view photos in Gettysburg's Soldiers' National Cemetery.
ARLINGTON WREATH PROJECT
Since 1992, volunteers have laid holiday wreaths in Arlington National Cemetery, thanks to wreath donations from Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine. That first year, Morrill Worcester donated 4,000 wreaths from his holiday decoration company. Every December since, he has set aside several thousand wreaths to lay on the gravestones at Arlington.
How do they determine where to lay their wreaths? Each year, the director of the Cemetery selects the area, and they plan to cover all areas of the Cemetery over a number of years.
In December of 2011, 15,000 volunteers laid 90,000 wreaths on headstones at Arlington National Cemetery.
Watch this special report about the Arlington Wreath Project.
HOLIDAY WREATH PROJECT OF FORT HOWARD MEMORIAL PARK
A retired Marine in Green Bay, Wisconsin wanted to honor the veterans buried in Fort Howard Memorial Park Cemetery in a special way. So he decided to replicate the the tradition of laying the holiday wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery.
Earlier this year, John Havey began raising money for his project. He was able to raise $1,100 and just before Thanksgiving, he and eight other volunteers assembled the wreaths and placed them at the graves of 57 veterans buried in the cemetery.
Havey told the Green Bay Press Gazette, "It's very emotional for me right now," Havey said. "It's just like a dream come true, and now we can actually look at the fruits of our labors and think about what a fitting and meaningful way to pay tribute to these folks. I'm just really happy about it."
You can read the full story here.
Does your cemetery do something special during the holidays? NAMES IN STONE would love to hear about it. Visit our FACEBOOK page and share your story!