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Volunteers needed for annual wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery

Wreaths Across America intends to lay 245,000 wreaths on Arlington National Cemetery tombstones, but the group is about 10,000 wreaths short and could use more volunteers. Find out how you can help.

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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