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Santa’s Helpers Lay Wreaths at Arlington Cemetery

By Larry Woda

Even as a kid, I was awed by Arlington National Cemetery when my parents took my sisters and me to Washington, D.C. from our home in Ohio.  It’s not just the landscape that’s impressive, but realization of all the history represented by those thousands of headstones which seem to stretch on forever. 

If you never visited Arlington National Cemetery, let me describe it to you:  rolling hills, winding roadways, clusters of mature trees, and small groups of people reading headstones here and there.  Other than the sound of Taps being played at yet another funeral, it’s a quiet place – a place for reflection and prayer, like any cemetery, but exaggerated by its pure magnitude and your awareness of the heroes resting here who each contributed in their own way to the freedom and quality of life we enjoy now.

Today, I had the privilege of joining hundreds, if not thousands, of volunteers to lay 10,000 wreathes at Arlington Cemetery.  Margaret thought you might be interested in hearing about this, so here goes:

Xmas wreathes Arlinton

 

Starting out before dawn and dressed for a cold blustery day, I made my way by subway from Maryland across the District of Columbia to the McClellan Gate Arch, which is just inside the main entrance of Arlington National Cemetery.  A crowd of several hundred volunteers was already there.  Within a half hour or so, that number swelled to well over a thousand.

 

There were Boy Scouts from the state of Maine, grandmas and grandpas walking slowly with the help of canes, bikers with Vietnam service patches on their leathers, ROTC cadets, soldiers, sailors and hundreds of just ordinary folks who felt it was important to be there.

After receiving our instructions and some brief remarks by Mr. and Mrs. Merrill Worcester (owners of the Worcester Wreath Co. of Harrington, Maine, and the donor of these 10,000 wreaths), unloading of the two large tractor tailors and the reverent placing of wreaths began.  The wreaths were placed carefully one by one with volunteers lingering at each marker to read and ponder the inscriptions on them.  I placed wreaths at the graves of an enlisted Navy man who served in the Spanish American war, another on that of a Marine veteran of World War II and a third at the headstone of an Army officer who served both in Korea and in Vietnam. 

In about three hours, both trucks were emptied and the volunteers began to make their way home.  As I rode the subway back across town, I determined that I would do my level best to try to deserve the freedoms that those thousands of service men and women secured for us by their service.  I also decided I will return next year and bring my high school age grandson.

You can read more about this annual event by checking the web-site at http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/ and reading The Washington Post article, A Holiday Tradition to Honor the Fallen.

And be sure to read Cindy Jones beautiful post, Moments of Silence During the Holiday Season.  Thank you, Cindy, for allowing me to share your thoughts with my Crofton neighbors!

 

AR - copyscapeCopyright 2007. All rights reserved. Larry Woda.

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