For the 30th year, thousands of headstones at Arlington National Cemetery were adorned with balsam wreaths on Saturday to mark National Wreaths Across America Day.
More than 250,000 wreaths were delivered to the cemetery by 66 tractor-trailers and were were placed on graves by nearly 38,000 volunteers.
Former FEMA Deputy Administrator Daniel Kaniewski, Managing Director for Public Sector at Marsh McLennan, was among the volunteers at Arlington. “The highlight this year was paying my respects to my friend Barry McCaffrey’s father, William J. McCaffrey, a decorated general officer whose 37 years of distinguished service included 11 campaigns in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam,” Kaniewski wrote on his LinkedIn page. “He was awarded the Silver Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters for extraordinary valor and the Combat Infantry Badge with Star.”
Nationwide, 525 truckloads of wreaths — each sponsored by an individual or organization — were delivered to 3,136 participating locations and placed on headstones by more than 2 million volunteers, according to Wreaths Across America. A third of the volunteers were children.
The tradition was started by Maine wreathmaker and founder of Wreaths Across America Morrill Worcester, who has come to Arlington every December since 1992 to honor veterans.
“When I brought down those 5,000 wreaths that first year, I just thought it was a way for me to say thank you for what we have in this country,” Worcester said. “I could have never imagined it would strike a chord like it has and make such an impact. Me and my family continued to be humbled by the support this program receives across the country.”
Giving thanks for all those who have served, Kaniewski called Wreaths Across America “a wonderful organization that brings us all together to honor those who have served and spread the Christmas spirit.”