Wreaths Across America Honors Soldiers In St. Joseph County
The holiday season. A time when we gather around with our families to celebrate the joy of being together. But for some military families, it can be a reminder of the loved ones they’re missing. December 14th, 2019 is National Wreaths Across America Day. On this day, we honor local soldiers who have lost their lives in battle by placing holiday wreaths on their graves. They start the ceremony by reading passages about why the ceremony takes place and how they are honoring those laid. The volunteers are each assigned a name and lined up until their soldier’s name is announced. Once they’re called, the story of the fallen hero will be told, and the volunteer will place their wreath on that soldier’s grave.
The organization began in 1992 after the Worchester Wreath Company found itself with a surplus of wreaths. Morill Worchester remembered his time in Arlington Cemetary and decided to send those wreaths to less-visited areas of the cemetery. This ceremony went on for years when in 2005, a photo of the graves with wreaths went viral. After receiving national attention, Thousands of people sent in requests to help volunteer at Arlington, looking to establish the same type of program in their own cemeteries. Worchester then decided to send seven wreaths to each state. One for every branch of the military with the rest representing the POW/MIAs that havn’t made it home. The wreaths making there way to the Arlington Cemetary started what is now the “Veterans Honor Parade” which travels down the East Coast starting in early December.
After 2008, 300 locations hosted the wreath ceremony in all states and select overseas cemeteries. 60,000 volunteers participated and 1,000 wreaths were laid. It was in that year that December 14th was dubbed “Wreaths Across America Day.” The organization dedicating their message, “Remember, Honor, and Teach” to the public about the people who sacrificed their lives for their country. They want to teach the youth about valuing their freedoms, and the importance of those individuals that laid their lives on the line for others. Every year the wreath-laying is held on the second or third Saturday of December. This year, St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery and Fairview Cemetery were the hosts for Mishawaka’s ceremonies. Family members of soldiers gathered to remember their loved ones, leaving on their headstones nothing but prayers and a single wreath donning a red bow.