Thousands of volunteers visited Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday to place wreaths on the graves of fallen heroes for National Wreaths Across America Day.
The annual event, now in its 31st year, pays tribute to veterans who died fighting for the country. Volunteers planned to place wreaths on more than 260,000 headstones, according to a statement from the cemetery.
“As we place the wreaths, it gives us a personal opportunity to not only remember the person buried but to honor their families,” said Karen Worcester, executive director of Wreaths Across America.
Ceremonies took place in 3,400 locations across all 50 states and abroad, the organization said on its website. Worcester said the organization would place 2.7 million wreaths nationwide.
“It’s just a way to honor people who fought for our country and let them know somebody’s thinking about them,” Arlington resident Joelle Kivi said, alongside her daughter Olivia and her friend Sierra.
The 31st annual @WreathsAcross America Day is complete! We’d like to thank our visitors, WAA volunteers, ANC staff and other stakeholders for making today a success while providing a safe environment for all who participated.
📸 Elizabeth Fraser pic.twitter.com/9JSmSj7aKA
— Arlington National Cemetery (@ArlingtonNatl) December 17, 2022
Christopher Best, a veteran volunteering at Arlington National Cemetery, said he has come out to Wreaths Across America several times and takes a moment to remember each fallen service member when placing a wreath.
“I usually say a prayer, something short, something sweet, and just thank them for their service,” he said.
Another volunteer from Falls Church, Ben Small, said he had been looking forward to volunteering at the event with his family.
“We were excited to get the opportunity to finally do it. I actually work for [Veterans Affairs],” Small said. “So I feel like it’s an honor to do something for the veterans.”
His son Gus said he “felt the light and felt grateful,” after placing wreaths on headstones.