Wreaths Across America, an organization that coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies at more than 1,200 cemeteries nationwide, completed their tenth year as an official nonprofit this past weekend. Volunteers in every state, as well as at sea and OCONUS, spent time placing live fir wreaths, adorned with red bows, at the grave stones of fallen service members.
For many Gold Star families and those who have lost their veterans, the ceremony is deeply personal and meaningful. Often, families are separated by distance from their deceased loved ones, and it means a great deal that someone is honoring them during the holidays. Many families treasure a photograph of their loved one’s headstone, adorned with a wreath. Those looking for a particular family headstone–as well as those who placed wreaths and volunteer– often share their requests and photos on social media, hoping that the magic of the internet will manifest an intersection.
In order to better facilitate the process, Wreaths Across America has created a Facebook closed group for family members and volunteers to find each other and share pictures and names. The moderator of the group asks that members, “Post your requests for a photo by listing the name of a cemetery, loved ones name as it is written on the stone, and the section and grave number. Another member of the group can then go to the cemetery, snap the phone and post to the photo request.”
While some of the comments on a post by Wreaths Across America have been critical of the organization, asking where purchased wreaths for specific veterans are and alleging volunteers were seen taking wreaths home with them, the majority are positive. One volunteer posted, “Even though I didn’t personally know the two veterans whose graves I visited, I hope their families will see their decorated and remembered headstones!” Another wrote, “I don’t know about anyone else but I am humbled by the connections being made here.”
To participate, click this link and then click “Join Group.” A moderator must approve you before you’re able to participate in the group; this could take some time and will not happen automatically. At the writing of this article, the group was 21 hours old and had over 250 posts and 1,400 members.
By J. G. Noll