Photos: 44,000 volunteers brave icy weather to lay wreaths for veterans

A woman stands in Arlington Cemetery, where the 25th annual Wreaths Across America ceremony to honor veterans took place on an icy morning Dec. 17, 2016. (WTOP Kathy Stewart)
A woman stands in Arlington Cemetery, where the 25th annual Wreaths Across America ceremony to honor veterans took place on a frosty Saturday morning, Dec. 17, 2016. (WTOP Kathy Stewart) (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
A sea of wreaths with red ribbons lay on head stones at Arlington National Cemetery on a frosty morning when the Wreaths Across America ceremony took place for the 25th year on Dec. 17, 2016. (WTOP Kathy Stewart)
A sea of wreaths with red ribbons lay on head stones at Arlington National Cemetery on a frosty morning. The Wreaths Across America ceremony took place for the 25th year Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016. (WTOP Kathy Stewart) (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
Empty boxes lay outside a truck that helped carry 245,000 remembrance wreaths that were placed at Arlington National Cemetery to honor veterans Saturday,  Dec. 17, 2016. (WTOP Kathy Stewart)
Empty boxes lay outside a truck that helped carry 245,000 remembrance wreaths that were placed at Arlington National Cemetery to honor veterans Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016. (WTOP Kathy Stewart) (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
44,000 volunteers visited Arlington National Cemetery to participate in the Wreaths Across America ceremony to honor veterans Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016. (WTOP Kathy Stewart)
Forty-four thousand volunteers visited Arlington National Cemetery to participate in the Wreaths Across America ceremony to honor veterans Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016. (WTOP Kathy Stewart) (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
The opening ceremony of the Wreaths Across America ceremony had to be canceled Saturday morning due to freezing rain, but 44,000 volunteers still showed up to participate Saturday morning, Dec. 16, 2016 at Arlington National Cemetery. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
The opening ceremony of the Wreaths Across America ceremony had to be canceled Saturday morning due to freezing rain, but 44,000 volunteers still showed up to participate Saturday morning, Dec. 16, 2016 at Arlington National Cemetery. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart) (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
A woman lay a wreath at a grave in Arlington Cemetery, where the 25th annual Wreaths Across America ceremony to honor veterans took place on an icy Saturday morning, Dec. 17, 2016. (WTOP Kathy Stewart)
A woman lay a wreath at a grave in Arlington Cemetery, where the 25th annual Wreaths Across America ceremony to honor veterans took place on an icy Saturday morning, Dec. 17, 2016. (WTOP Kathy Stewart) (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
Despite icy road conditions and a winter weather advisory, 44,000 volunteers showed up at Arlington Cemetery to lay wreaths to honor veterans Saturday morning, Dec. 17, 2016. (WTOP Kathy Stewart)
Despite icy road conditions and a winter weather advisory, 44,000 volunteers showed up at Arlington Cemetery to lay wreaths to honor veterans Saturday morning, Dec. 17, 2016. (WTOP Kathy Stewart)(WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
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A woman stands in Arlington Cemetery, where the 25th annual Wreaths Across America ceremony to honor veterans took place on an icy morning Dec. 17, 2016. (WTOP Kathy Stewart)
A sea of wreaths with red ribbons lay on head stones at Arlington National Cemetery on a frosty morning when the Wreaths Across America ceremony took place for the 25th year on Dec. 17, 2016. (WTOP Kathy Stewart)
Empty boxes lay outside a truck that helped carry 245,000 remembrance wreaths that were placed at Arlington National Cemetery to honor veterans Saturday,  Dec. 17, 2016. (WTOP Kathy Stewart)
44,000 volunteers visited Arlington National Cemetery to participate in the Wreaths Across America ceremony to honor veterans Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016. (WTOP Kathy Stewart)
The opening ceremony of the Wreaths Across America ceremony had to be canceled Saturday morning due to freezing rain, but 44,000 volunteers still showed up to participate Saturday morning, Dec. 16, 2016 at Arlington National Cemetery. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
A woman lay a wreath at a grave in Arlington Cemetery, where the 25th annual Wreaths Across America ceremony to honor veterans took place on an icy Saturday morning, Dec. 17, 2016. (WTOP Kathy Stewart)
Despite icy road conditions and a winter weather advisory, 44,000 volunteers showed up at Arlington Cemetery to lay wreaths to honor veterans Saturday morning, Dec. 17, 2016. (WTOP Kathy Stewart)

ARLINGTON, Va. — More than 44,000 volunteers turned out even in the icy, cold and rainy weather to carefully lay 245,000 remembrance wreaths at t Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday, as part of “Wreaths Across America.”

It was the 25th year that wreaths have been placed at Arlington National Cemetery. The theme for this year’s event was #SayTheirNames.

The wreaths  are placed at grave sites nationwide to honor and remember fallen veterans and their service. After placing a wreath, volunteers are encouraged to take time to read the headstone, to honor the memory of that fallen hero and to say the veteran’s name out loud.

For Julie Hunter from Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, this has become an annual pilgrimage. The experience, for her, is a somber one.

“You see all kinds of people that come together from all different walks of life just being grateful for the service and the lives that were lost,” Hunter said.

This year was the first time that Wendy Nixon from North Carolina volunteered to place the wreaths. She lost her 21-year-old brother-in-law; he was killed in Iraq. She was awe-struck by the event at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday.

“People come from all over just to do this,” she said. “No words can even describe, you know?”

And when the volunteers’ work was all done, the scene left behind is breathtaking: a sea of beautiful balsam wreaths with red bows at Christmastime.

In 1992, a wreath maker from Maine had 5,000 extra wreaths and decided to head to Arlington National Cemetery to honor fallen veterans. That was the beginning of what is now known as “Wreaths Across America.”

Amber Caron of the “Wreaths Across America” organization said Morrill Worcester brought 5,000 wreaths to Arlington without any fanfare for 13 years.

“It wasn’t until it got a little more attention that ‘Wreaths Across America’ was formed in 2007,” Caron said.

Saturday was known as National Wreaths Across America Day, with wreath-laying ceremonies at hundreds of veterans cemeteries and at various other locations in all 50 states.

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