On Saturday, 15 December within the gates of Arlington National Cemetery, thousands upon thousands of volunteers assembled to partake in an event 20 years young. What began with a few thousand wreaths and a childhood memory of ANC, has turned into tens of thousands of volunteers from all over the United States, 30+ truck loads, and 120,000+ wreaths. The goal every year is to fill all of Arlington.
This photo blog are just some of the memories I will share with you. Due to a surgery/biopsy on Friday, I was not able to partake in the honorable event like I have in the past (unloading the trailers). On the other hand, I was able to accomplish many things and one special moment in particular was that I ran across a Wounded Warrior from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He, his friend, and fiancee, were on their way to the rear of the line. I spoke with him for a few moments (wish I recorded his name), and I asked if he would accept the first wreath off of Truck 3, whereby he kindly accepted the offer. The haphazardly put together ceremony brought some tears to the eyes of volunteers and much pride when he rose from his wheelchair, cane in hand, accepted the first wreath and walked nearly to the center of Section 60 to lay the wreath--brought tears to my eyes as well. This is the sort of memory that should be made--a reverent moment between the wreath layer and those buried in Arlington.
I hope you enjoy this short photo blog--as always, I enjoyed, am honored to have been part of such a wonderful event. Salute to the Worcester family, the truckers, volunteers, ANC staff and all the special folks that made this years event memorable for me and many others.
Merrell Worcester of Worcester Wreaths gives a rare speech at the Wreaths Across America Rally, Friday 14 Jan, Moose Lodge, College Park Maryland.
0630 Saturday, 15 Jan, Looking across Section 46 towards the Tomb of the Unknowns Memorial Amphitheater in the background.
December Sunrise in Arlington - 0705 - Tomb Sentinel marches the 21 footsteps, the same footsteps made by many before him. Through storms, wind, rain, snow, extreme temperatures, the Tomb Sentinels guard our nations most sacred monument, without fail.
Core Volunteers - 0730 Memorial Amphitheater - 300+ core volunteers began arriving on Fort Meyer/Henderson Hall hours before the official start time to receive briefings on safety, updates, assignments, for the day's events. These volunteers from all branches of the military, retired military, veterans, Dominion Power, Civil Air Patrol, everyday folks, stood at the gates directing volunteers, unloaded trailers, directed traffic, shuttled material/wreaths throughout the cemetery. Without these essential volunteers, the event could not have been possible.
One of 25+ trucks and trailers prepositioned throughout the cemetery on Friday, stood guard for one evening, and awaited to complete their mission.
When the gates of Arlington opened at 0800, the thousands of volunteers corralled at the 33 trucks waiting for the 1000 start time, while core volunteers continued unloading and setting up.
Wounded Warrior from Walter Reed accepts the first wreath from a SMSgt who is stationed at Andrews AFB.
As the time draws near, hundreds of people formed up behind the makeshift barrier to accept the wreaths and begin the honorable event.
Two thirds complete, the wreaths still pour out of the trailer with extra volunteers stepping in to assist.
A mother teaches her daughter the meaning of the event as they begin to reverently place the wreath.
Volunteers bring wreaths to the hundreds of folks in the lines.
My wife and I placing a wreath on our daughter's grave after the event was complete. Victoria Morgan was 38 weeks young when she was taken from us--we miss her~23 March 2012.
One of the many trucks adorned with artwork honoring our military personnel. The driver, a Coast Guard Veteran was proud and honored to be a part of this event and looks forward to hopefully do this again next year.
Section 35 looking towards the Memorial Amphitheater.
All photos owned by the writer of this blog.