The group Wreaths Across America—a nonprofit dedicated to honoring the nation’s war dead at Christmas—made news last October when a town in Maine decided to restrict their annual display honoring the veterans of Bar Harbor. They are in the news again, only this time it is because the annual donations that allow them to purchase the wreaths have fallen short of what they expected.
The practice began in 1992 when Worcester Wreath Company donated 5000 wreaths to Arlington National Cemetary, who decides where the wreaths are placed. However, as the size of the donation increased, members of Wreaths Across America have always decorated headstones in Section 60, the resting place for many soldiers of the current conflicts. Last year, according to The Washington Post, the group was able to lay 110,600 wreaths, amounting to a little over a third of all Arlington headstones. On top of that, the group was also able to lay 400,000 wreaths in veteran cemeteries across the country.
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This year, however, they failed to raise around $525,000 that they needed to hit their goals. Thus, this year only 100,000 wreaths will be sent to Arlington. Fortunately, another 370,000 to 400,000 wreaths will ship to about 900 cemeteries this year, up one hundred from 2012, according to the Associated Press. So, despite individual donations being down, the group’s outreach continues to expand.
Worcester Wreath Company plans to make twice the amount of wreaths next year, seemingly without regard to level of donations received. Next year marks the 150th anniversary of Arlington National Cemetery and the Worcesters—Morrill and Karen, owners of the wreath company—are dedicated to adorning as many headstones as possible with wreaths to celebrate the milestone. However, for them it’s about honoring the individual soldiers and their families’ sacrifice in some small way at Christmas.