On December 16, 2023, Missouri’s National Veterans Memorial, an official Wreaths Across America location, hosted our sixth wreath-laying ceremony. MNVM joined more than 3,700 other locations across the country for National Wreaths Across America Day. Individuals, businesses, churches, and Veterans Service Organizations sponsored the placement of more than 600 Veterans’ wreaths on the headstones of our fallen service members laid to rest in MNVM’s Honor Flag Memorial and Mt. Hope Cemetery.

Wreath layers for our ceremony included: Staff Sgt. Brent Massey, US Army; Master Gunnery Sgt. Brian Burlingame, (Ret.) US Marine Corps & Commandant, SSgt Eric Summers-MCL 1473; Petty Officer 2nd Class Hunter Christian Miller, US Navy; Staff Sgt. Dereth Worrell, US Air Force; and Cadet 1st Class Benjamin Konvalinka, US Space Force.

What is Wreaths Across America?

Wreaths Across America is a nonprofit organization that coordinates and sponsors the placement of wreaths on the graves of military veterans across the United States. The organization’s mission is to remember, honor, and teach. Wreaths Across America coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies at cemeteries, memorials, and other locations to honor and pay tribute to the men and women who have served in the military.

The tradition began in 1992 when Morrill Worcester, the owner of Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine, found himself with a surplus of wreaths near the end of the holiday season. Remembering a trip he had taken as a boy to Arlington National Cemetery, Worcester decided to donate the excess wreaths to Arlington to honor and remember the fallen.

The initiative gained momentum over the years, and in 2007, Wreaths Across America was formed as a nonprofit organization. Today, the organization works with volunteers and sponsors to lay wreaths at cemeteries and memorial sites in all 50 states, as well as at national cemeteries and military cemeteries overseas. The wreath-laying ceremonies typically take place in December, with National Wreaths Across America Day observed on the second or third Saturday of the month.

Wreaths Across America not only honors veterans but also seeks to teach younger generations about the sacrifices made by those who have served in the military. The organization’s educational programs aim to instill a sense of patriotism and gratitude in future generations.

The symbol of the wreath, with its circular shape representing eternity, is a powerful and meaningful way to express gratitude and remembrance for the service and sacrifice of veterans. Each wreath is often accompanied by a moment of reflection and gratitude during the ceremonies, fostering a sense of unity and shared appreciation for the nation’s military heroes.