ARLINGTON, Va. (WUSA9) — There is concern for a much-loved local tradition that honors those who gave their lives for our country. Donations for the wreaths to be laid at Arlington National Cemetery are short this year.
All the wreaths are donated. They come from the Worcester Wreath Company in Maine. The idea came from the company’s owner who was inspired as a boy on a trip to Arlington Cemetery.
It’s become a tradition. But it takes more than $3 million to pay for all the wreaths. And right now they’re short.
Every year, they seem to appear like a miracle. A wreath laid at every tombstone at Arlington National Cemetery. More than 230,000 graves.
Each decorated, each honored during the holidays. A canopy of seasonal beauty and meaning.
Each wreath cost $15. As of December 1, 2015, they’re about 8000 wreaths short.
“We need the public’s help so nobody will be forgotten,” said Wayne Hanson, chairman of the board of Wreaths Across America.
Hanson of Springfield is the Board Chair of The nonprofit Wreaths Across America.
He and his wife Ann have been laying wreaths at Arlington for years.
“The minute you lay that first wreath, you continue to go back,” Ann said.
The wreath company started small in 1992, sending excess wreaths laying at some of the graves. Every year, the tradition grew.
Last year, for 150 anniversary of Arlington National Cemetery, they raised enough money and volunteers to lay a wreath on every gravestone.
“When they lay that wreath, see the stone, means something…Read the name. We always say there’s a story behind the stone,” Ann said.
The goal is to, once again, honor every one.
“We never want to go backwards…its not a stagnant cemetery, said Wayne.
Each day, there are 20 to 30 burials at Arlington. Wayne Hanson never wants to hear again, that painful question from the father of a soldier laid to rest who did not have a wreath in front of his grave.
“A father asked, what about my son?…It sticks with me,” Wayne said.
If you want to donate or volunteer to be a part of the wreath laying at Arlington Cemetery, sign up here: www.wreathsacrossamerica.
The biggest corporation that donates to Wreaths Across America is Wal-Mart.
Hanson is hoping one of the many defense contractors in the area will step up.