Honoring All Veterans - The Mission of Wreaths Across America
Every cemetery is a place of solemn remembrance, but a military cemetery adds another element. Unlike most cemeteries, you won't find family crypts, statues of angels or many unique headstones in a military cemetery. What you do see is row upon row of essentially identical headstones and grave markers.
The starkness of a military cemetery is sobering. Nothing prevents the eye from traveling down row after row. Each headstone is personalized with the name, branch of service, birth and death years, a short inscription and if space allows a symbol of the veterans's faith, decorations, war service and rank. This is very basic information to describe a life.
Many inscriptions say "Beloved Husband and Father" or more recently "Beloved Wife and Mother," but too many simply say "Beloved Son" or "Beloved Daughter." Unlike most cemeteries, a large number of the graves in military cemeteries are for those whose lives were cut short. They never had the opportunity to marry, have a child and grow old. Instead, they went to war and did their duty.
In life they fought as brothers and sisters, wearing the same uniforms. Their graves reflect honor, courage and duty. They fought together, watching each other's backs. In death, they are united still.
The Civil War Made National Cemeteries a Necessity
Before the Civil War of the 1860s, military cemeteries typically consisted of small areas set aside within a military post. The Civil War changed all that. Many thousands of men were dying in single battles. The first organized system for marking veteran's graves came into being out of necessity.
The first national cemetery was established in Alexandria, VA in 1862. Other national veterans' cemeteries followed, many located near the scenes of horrendous battles. President Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address was given at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, PA.
Today there are 147 national cemeteries, primarily for military veterans and spouses, as well as state veterans' cemeteries. It's unknown exactly how many graves there are for U.S. veterans and spouses, but the number exceeds 7.6 million. Many additional veterans are buried in unknown locations both in the U.S. and abroad.
The Picture that Gave Birth to a Movement
The famous picture that blew up the internet of endless rows of white headstones in the snow at Arlington National Cemetery made Worcester Wreath Company famous. The graves were all decorated with christmas wreaths and red bows. This small family-owned company in Maine had started a volunteer movement to decorate veterans' graves at Christmas.
The picture and the movement both went viral. When the number of graves to be honored became too large for one company to handle, they became the Founders of Wreaths Across America. The ultimate goal is to place a wreath upon every veteran's grave. They come a little closer to accomplishing this goal each year.
To donate or volunteer in this tremendous effort, contact Wreaths Across America. To learn about the Founders of Wreaths Across America, visit WorcesterWreath.com.WorcesterWreath