National Wreaths Across America Day 2021 took place at 3,136 participating locations across the country, including at Arlington National Cemetery, where the program originated. Our heroes were remembered and honored as volunteers safely placed a total of more than 2.4 million veterans’ wreaths on headstones nationwide and saying each name out loud. At Arlington National Cemetery specifically, the Wreaths Across America program saw 66 tractor trailers deliver over 250,000 veterans’ wreaths that were placed by nearly 38,000 volunteers on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021.
As we honor our veterans, we also honor the host grounds for allowing the mission to be fulfilled with a follow-up effort of wreath retirement. Please join us for this year’s wreath retirement known as ‘Wreaths Out’ as volunteers are needed to help with this effort on Saturday, Jan. 22 at Arlington National Cemetery, beginning at 8 am.
There will be no vehicular access permitted on cemetery grounds until 3 p.m. The public will be permitted to park in the Arlington National Cemetery parking garage beginning at 8 a.m. on a first-come, first-served basis. Once the parking garage is full, additional parking will be available at the Pentagon South Parking Lot. Rideshare and taxi drivers using Memorial Avenue must drop off adjacent to the Arlington Cemetery Metro stop. If you are planning to take the Metro to participate in Wreaths Out, please be aware that the Arlington Cemetery Metro stop will be open; however, there will be a shutdown the weekend of January 22 on the Yellow Line between Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza and single tracking on the blue, orange and silver lines between McPherson Square and Smithsonian for track work. Exact travel times and travel tips for that weekend will be posted on the website and reflected in trip planner here https://www.wmata.com/
Please note, Arlington National Cemetery has implemented 100% ID checks at all entrances. All visitors 18 years of age and older (pedestrians, drivers, and passengers) must present a valid state or government-issued photo identification upon entering the cemetery. Visitors 16 and 17 years old may present a school-issued identification for entry.
Tips for volunteers:
- Give vehicles and heavy equipment the right of way and let them pass in roadways.
- Remove only Wreaths Across America veterans’ wreaths. Leave all other wreaths or decorations in place.
- Place wreaths in dumpsters positioned throughout the cemetery and pack them tightly.
- When dumpsters are filled, do not pile wreaths next to them. Carry wreaths to unfilled dumpsters.
- Do not jump or climb on wreaths in dumpsters to compress them.
Each of these live, balsam veteran’s wreath was a gift of respect and appreciation, donated by a private citizen or organization and placed on graves by volunteers as a small gesture of gratitude for the freedoms Americans enjoy. For centuries, fresh evergreens have been used as a symbol of honor and have served as a living tribute renewed annually. Wreaths Across America believes the tradition represents a living memorial that honors veterans, active-duty military, and their families and when volunteers say the name of a veteran out loud, when placing a veteran’s wreath, it ensures they live on in our memory.
Wreaths Across America would like to thank the dedicated volunteers for their incredible commitment to the mission throughout all of 2021. From the local volunteers, local officials, professional truck drivers and many more, each person has played an important a part in the mission to Remember the fallen, Honor those that serve and their families, and Teach the next generation the value of freedom.
This year, National Wreaths Across America Day will be held on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022.