Each December, Wreaths Across America’s mission is to remember our fallen U.S. veterans, honor those who serve and teach our children the value of freedom by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as more than 3,700 additional locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea and abroad.
“We are gathered here today at this cemetery and at other cemeteries all across America and around the world to remember that we are one nation with one flag,” said Master of Ceremonies Mick Hersey, a retired Navy senior chief petty officer. “The freedoms we enjoy today have not come without a price. We thank those who gave their lives to keep us free and we shall not forget you.”
A veteran’s wreath symbolizes our honor to those who have served, are serving in the armed forces and to their families who endure sacrifices every day on our behalf. Each of the 10 balsam bouquets that comprise a veteran’s wreath also symbolize 10 special qualities that our veterans embody. Their belief in a greater good, love for each other, strength, honesty, humility, ambitions, optimism for America, concern for the future, pride in their duties, and hopes and dreams that didn’t always come true but left them with no regrets.
“Remember, we are not here today to ‘decorate graves’,” said Hersey. “We are here to remember not their deaths, but their lives. Each wreath is a gift of appreciation, from all of us, a grateful America.”
During the ceremony, a service member from each branch of the U.S. armed forces carried a wreath, decorated with a red bow, to the cemetery's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier monument, and rendered a salute. Afterward, wreaths were placed at the headstones of veterans buried across the cemetery.
“I think it’s important that we show appreciation for those who came before us,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Anthony Johnson, Naval Medicine Readiness Training Command. “To be honest, I truly loved the ceremony. It’s only right that we pay respect back to them.”
Ivy Green Cemetery has a large military section, honoring fallen men and women of all services. Of the approximate 4,000 gravesites in Ivy Green Cemetery, more than 600 are veterans. This year marks the 11th year that Ivy Green Cemetery has participated in Wreaths Across America.