SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Each year, Wreaths Across America places more than 2 million wreaths on the headstones of fallen soldiers at over 2,000 cemeteries in the U.S.
“Not only do we honor them on Memorial Day and Veterans Day but close to Christmas time too,” Wreaths Across America council member for the Georgia National Cemetery Tom Wilder said.
“And it means something to the families that come out there and place a wreath on the headstones,” he added.
In years past, the Georgia National Cemetery gathers hundreds of volunteers to help lay the wreaths. This year, the event will be expanded over a three-day period to allow for social distancing.
“There must have been 400 plus or minus people out there last year, and in 30 minutes, every wreath was placed,” Wilder said.
Wilder has been a part of the mission for more than 10 years. He says as a Vietnam veteran, this tradition helps him to remember, honor and teach about all fallen U.S. service members.
“I get choked up, just like now. It’s like I learned a long time ago, freedom isn’t free,” Wilder said. “Not everyone in a National Cemetary was killed in a war. But you can bet that a great majority of them did serve in the war, on the dirt, in the sea, in the air.”
Wilder is working to raise $200,000 to ensure all 17,000 veterans at the Georgia National Cemetary has a wreath placed on their headstone this holiday season.
“We want to make sure that everybody gets a wreath,” Wilder said. “And I’ve seen that in the people who come out over the years to place the wreaths and how strongly they feel about it.”
Visit the Wreaths Across America website to find the nearest participating cemetery to you.
Funds must be received by Nov. 30 to order enough wreaths for all. If you’d like to sponsor a wreath at the Georgia National Cemetery, donations may be made online on their website.
Each $15 sponsorship goes toward a fresh balsam veteran’s wreath that will be placed on the headstone of a fallen soldier on Saturday, December 19, 2020, as part of National Wreaths Across America Day.
You can also text WREATH22 to 20222 to sponsor a wreath for Arlington National Cemetery.