By Glynn Cosker
Editor, In Homeland Security
Arlington National Cemetery welcomed thousands of volunteers, veterans, families and active military members for the annual Wreaths Across America event Saturday.
It was my first time at the event as I helped with both trucks of wreaths sponsored by American Military University (AMU), whose volunteers showed up at 5.30 a.m. and stayed until the last of their allotted 3,000 plus wreaths were poignantly placed against each gravestone in their assigned section of the cemetery. AMU is a top veteran-focused university with a strong military heritage.
Learn more about the Ray of Light: Wreaths Across America photograph.
Wreaths Across America coordinates wreath laying ceremonies each December in Arlington and veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in every state in the U.S. and elsewhere. Today’s turnout was the organization’s largest in its history.
— Marty McKee (@MartyMcKee) December 10, 2014
To say the experience was moving and humbling is a major understatement. Some of the graves at Arlington National Cemetery date back to the late 1800s while others are merely days old—but all of them was honored either by family members, friends or complete strangers who were just there to pay their respects.
As I walked among the headstones, I was reminded of how short life was for a vast amount of those people currently resting in the beautiful locale. I was also reminded that without the valor and service of the veterans interred in Arlington (and all the other cemeteries honored by Wreaths Across America), life would be quite different in this nation of ours. By the time I left the cemetery with my colleagues, every gravestone was adorned with a fresh pine wreath with a red bow, which made for a spectacular sight on a crisp, sunny day.
Later Saturday, Congress officially proclaimed Dec. 13 as “Wreaths Across America Day” soon after the two-millionth wreath laid nationwide was placed in honor of U.S. Army Private William Christman, the very first soldier to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in May 1864.
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