Wreaths Across America Day coming to Arlington National Cemetery

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Arlington National Cemetery is inviting the public to lay wreaths at headstones and columbarium niches throughout the cemetery to honor and remember the nation’s service members this holiday season.

On Dec. 16, the annual Wreaths Across America event will be held at Arlington National Cemetery starting at 8 a.m. and the Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery starting at noon.

“We are honored to uphold this beautiful tradition by providing the public with an opportunity to lay wreaths at the graves of those laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery this holiday season,” Executive Director of Army National Military Cemeteries and the Office of Army Cemeteries Karen Durham-Aguilera said in a news release.

Traveling down the coast from Delaware is what many people consider to be the nation’s longest veterans’ parade, the Wreaths Across America annual “Escort to Arlington.”  This 13-truck convoy, accompanied by Chevrolet vehicles and the Wreaths Across America Mobile Education Exhibit, will be making local stops on its way to Arlington National Cemetery to deliver veteran’s wreaths for National Wreaths Across America Day.

Co-founder and Executive Director of Wreaths Across America Karen Dow Worcester is set to receive the Military Order of the World Wars Silver Patrick Henry Medal Dec. 16 at the Military Women’s Memorial.

The award, which will be presented to Worcester by the Northern Virginia Chapter of the organization, symbolizes extraordinary patriotism and honors individuals who significantly contribute to patriotism within the Military Order of the World Wars or their communities.

According to the organization, Worcester’s decades of commitment to recognizing and honoring veterans epitomizes the order’s motto that “it is nobler to serve than to be served.”

Formally launched in 2006, with a mission to “Remember, Honor, Teach,” Worcester has grown Wreaths Across America into a worldwide program of events and activities to honor veterans.

Worcester annually organizes Wreaths Across America Day, which involves the production and distribution of wreaths, recruitment of some 2 million volunteers and supporters at more than 4,000 locations to place wreaths on veterans’ graves. WAA also hosts a mobile education exhibit, a museum on wheels, that travels the country to help honor local veterans.

Looking for a broader reach, she launched WAA Radio, a nationwide broadcast featuring informational and inspiring content about veterans and their families.

Other efforts include an American history unit of study designed to help students develop a better understanding of the importance of veterans in America’s history; a national awards program to recognize local volunteers and their work on behalf of veterans; America’s longest veterans’ parade with wrapped vehicles transporting Gold and Blue Star families and veterans; and an effort to organize local nonprofits around a common mission of support for veterans and their families.

Visitors should anticipate large crowds and difficulty driving vehicles in the vicinity of Arlington National Cemetery due to road closures. All visitors must pass through the cemetery’s security screening process before entering the cemetery.

No vehicular traffic will be permitted inside the cemetery on Dec. 16, and there will be no vehicle parking for the public in the cemetery’s Welcome Center parking garage except for handicapped and family pass holder visitors. It is recommended that visitors use public transportation or a ride share service for travel to and from the cemetery.

Event details include:

  • The Arlington National Cemetery entrances – Memorial Avenue, Ord & Weitzel Gate, Service Complex Gate (located on Columbia Pike near the Pentagon) and Old Post Chapel Gate (Department of Defense ID cardholders only) – will open to the public at 8 a.m.

  • All visitors must pass through the cemetery’s security screening process before entering.

  • Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall (JBM-HH) will be accessible to Department of Defense ID card holders only; however, parking will be limited to the Tri-Services parking lot located across from Spates Community Center.

Visitors are encouraged to use Metro transportation to access the cemetery. The Arlington Cemetery Metro stop will take visitors to the main Memorial Avenue entrance. There are additional access points via the Rosslyn or Pentagon stations. It is an approximately 15-minute walk from these locations to one of the cemetery entrances. Those exiting the Metro at the Rosslyn stop can enter the cemetery through the Ord and Weitzel Gate, and those exiting the Metro at the Pentagon stop can enter through the Service Complex Gate.

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