DAYTON — Dec. 19, 2020 is National Wreaths Across America Day, and staff and volunteers of Wreaths Across America are working tirelessly nationwide to ensure that all veterans who have been laid to rest are honored.
In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause.” To that end, Wreaths Across America, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, coordinates an annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery every December.
In addition to Arlington, the program has continued to expand and today wreaths are laid at thousands of veterans’ cemeteries and other locations across the U.S., including the Dayton National Cemetery.
The wreaths are purchased by individuals and through organizational donations and fund-raising.
As with many other events, wreath-laying ceremonies this year may look a little different. Held at more than 2,200 participating locations nationwide, the organization is following recommended COVID-19 safety guidelines provided by the CDC, state, local, and cemetery officials.
Reservations are required, but there are two other opportunities for families to participate on National Wreath Day. First, the ceremony of wreath-laying on individual graves. Individuals can volunteer online for one-hour slots to place wreaths today from 1-4 p.m., or Saturday between 8-11 a.m.
The second opportunity is at the public Presentation ceremony. This year, the ceremony will be held at 12 p.m. at the grotto on the VA campus. Ceremonial wreaths honoring all veterans will be presented for all branches of service, POW/MIA, and Fort Hood Victims. Col. Dr. K. Platoni is the honored guest speaker, and Judge D. Adkins will be master of ceremonies.
Margaret Kruckemeyer, MSN, RN, APRN BC, is president emeritus of the American Veterans Heritage organization in Dayton. The non-profit group honors the accomplishments of veterans while preserving the Soldier’s Home located at the VA Medical Center. Kruckemeyer has worked with Wreaths Across America to expand the program locally.
“This year 5,890 live, balsam fir veteran’s wreaths will be placed at Dayton National Cemetery on Friday, December 19th,” Kruckemeyer said, more than doubling the number that was set out than the previous year. “Wreaths Across America demonstrates to everyone that veterans and their time and service will never be forgotten. They’ll always be cherished in our hearts.”
Kruckemeyer and her late husband, Vietnam veteran, aviation maintenance officer, and test pilot William C. Kruckemeyer, both served in uniform.
“We need to pass on what it means to be an American,” she said. “Honoring those who fought for our country and have been laid to rest shows future generations that the price of our freedom will never be free. When you see the rows of tombstones in the national cemetery, remember that each one was an American who gave all.”
For more information, or to sponsor a wreath anywhere the organization is operating, visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.