Volunteers needed for annual wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery

National Harbor and Peterson Companies sponsor the Capital Wheel display and also help sponsor wreaths as a gift of gratitude for those who serve and who have made the ultimate sacrifice. (Courtesy Bendure Communications, Inc.)
National Harbor and Peterson Companies sponsor the Capital Wheel display and also help sponsor wreaths as a gift of gratitude for those who serve and who have made the ultimate sacrifice. (Courtesy Bendure Communications, Inc.)

Lane Austin
FILE — Lane Austin, 6, of Virginia Beach, Va., carries a wreath to grave during Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 in Arlington, Va. Organizers estimated that volunteers placed 240,815 wreaths at Arlington.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

FILE -- The grave of Medal of Honor recipient Audie Murphy is adorned with a wreath as part of Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 in Arlington, Va. By the end of WWII, Murphy had become one of the nation's most-decorated soldier, earning an unparalleled 28 medals. Organizers estimated that volunteers placed 240,815 wreaths at Arlington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
FILE — The grave of Medal of Honor recipient Audie Murphy is adorned with a wreath as part of Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 in Arlington, Va. By the end of WWII, Murphy had become one of the nation’s most-decorated soldier, earning an unparalleled 28 medals. Organizers estimated that volunteers placed 240,815 wreaths at Arlington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

FILE -- The Washington Monument is seen behind the graves after wreaths were placed in front of them as part of Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 in Arlington, Va. Organizers estimated that volunteers placed 240,815 wreaths at Arlington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
FILE — The Washington Monument is seen behind the graves after wreaths were placed in front of them as part of Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 in Arlington, Va. Organizers estimated that volunteers placed 240,815 wreaths at Arlington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

FILE -- Wreaths are unboxed as volunteers come to get them to place them at graves during Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 in Arlington, Va. Organizers estimated that volunteers placed 240,815 wreaths at Arlington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
FILE — Wreaths are unboxed as volunteers come to get them to place them at graves during Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 in Arlington, Va. Organizers estimated that volunteers placed 240,815 wreaths at Arlington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

FILE -- Randy Schultz, from Union Bridge, Md., places a wreath at a grave as part of Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 in Arlington, Va. Organizers estimated that volunteers placed 240,815 wreaths at Arlington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
FILE — Randy Schultz, from Union Bridge, Md., places a wreath at a grave as part of Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 in Arlington, Va. Organizers estimated that volunteers placed 240,815 wreaths at Arlington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

wreaths_missy.jpg
FILE — Volunteer Missy Williams, of Vermont, kneels before a gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery in 2014 where she had placed a holiday wreath. She was among thousands of volunteers who descended upon the cemetery to take part in the annual Wreaths Across America event to honor the nation’s fallen heroes this holiday season.

wreaths_liam.jpg
FILE — Cub Scout Liam Perella, of Waldorf, places a holiday wreath upon a headstone at Arlington National Cemetery in 2014. He was among thousands of volunteers who descended upon the cemetery to take part in the annual Wreaths Across America event to honor the nation’s fallen heroes this holiday season.

FILE -- Holiday wreaths adorn tombstones during Wreaths Across America's 25th anniversary, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)
FILE — Holiday wreaths adorn tombstones during Wreaths Across America’s 150th anniversary, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)

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National Harbor and Peterson Companies sponsor the Capital Wheel display and also help sponsor wreaths as a gift of gratitude for those who serve and who have made the ultimate sacrifice. (Courtesy Bendure Communications, Inc.)
Lane Austin
FILE -- The grave of Medal of Honor recipient Audie Murphy is adorned with a wreath as part of Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 in Arlington, Va. By the end of WWII, Murphy had become one of the nation's most-decorated soldier, earning an unparalleled 28 medals. Organizers estimated that volunteers placed 240,815 wreaths at Arlington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
FILE -- The Washington Monument is seen behind the graves after wreaths were placed in front of them as part of Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 in Arlington, Va. Organizers estimated that volunteers placed 240,815 wreaths at Arlington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
FILE -- Wreaths are unboxed as volunteers come to get them to place them at graves during Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 in Arlington, Va. Organizers estimated that volunteers placed 240,815 wreaths at Arlington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
FILE -- Randy Schultz, from Union Bridge, Md., places a wreath at a grave as part of Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 in Arlington, Va. Organizers estimated that volunteers placed 240,815 wreaths at Arlington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
wreaths_missy.jpg
wreaths_liam.jpg
FILE -- Holiday wreaths adorn tombstones during Wreaths Across America's 25th anniversary, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)

WASHINGTON — A charity organization that honors fallen veterans needs help to place Christmas wreaths at every gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery.

Wreaths Across America intends to lay 245,000 wreaths on Arlington tombstones, but the group is about 10,000 wreaths short and could use more volunteers. 

“Our mission is: remember, honor, teach,” said Catherine Ferreira, a volunteer with Wreaths Across America.

Ferreira said it’s important to remember those who served and to honor those who’ve fallen — but also necessary to teach younger generations what the ultimate sacrifice means.

“Freedom isn’t free,” Ferreira said. “The incredible benefits and privileges that we have here in this wonderful country are because of the many generations of service members who have served this country.”

This will be the 25th year for the wreath-laying tradition.

When the monumental task is done and the wreaths all laid, Ferreira said, the emotional impact is “overwhelming” to family members who visit the graves.

“These families understand that we’re a grateful nation,” Ferreira said.

The wreath-laying tradition that began at Arlington now happens about 1,200 cemeteries across the nation.

To help observe National Wreaths Across America Day and highlight the charity’s need for help locally, the Capital Wheel at National Harbor will light up like a wreath at the beginning of every evening hour through Sunday.

“We are extremely grateful to the Peterson family and the Peterson Companies for this incredible opportunity to show these families and all who have served our appreciation for their service to our nation,” Ferreira added in an email about the Capitol Wheel lighting.

People who are interested in helping the effort can explore donation and volunteering opportunities on the organization’s website.

Volunteers begin laying the wreaths around 7 a.m. Saturday.

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