WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — A resolution introduced by Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King to designate December 19, 2020 as “Wreaths Across America Day” was passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate.
Traditionally, a convoy of volunteers travel from Maine to Arlington National Cemetery to lay thousands of Maine-made balsam wreaths in remembrance of veterans who have died. Wreaths Across America, a non-profit organization based in Maine, coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies at more than 2,100 cemeteries across the U.S.
Last year, approximately 2.2 million wreaths were laid across the U.S. and overseas, including more than 13,300 wreaths placed at the American Cemeteries in Luxembourg and the Netherlands, in remembrance of those lost during World War II.
Collins’ father was a World War II veteran who was wounded twice during the Battle of the Bulge.
“Wreaths Across America is a powerful demonstration of respect and appreciation for our veterans – both those that we’ve lost and those still with us,” Collins and King in a joint statement. “We are so proud that this heartfelt expression of gratitude originated in the great State of Maine and has become an enduring symbol of our nation’s gratitude for veterans’ valor and sacrifice. This resolution remembers and honors America’s veterans this holiday season, while also teaching generations to come of the sacrifices that have been made to secure our freedoms and to defend our liberty.”
The tradition has continued every December for 29 years. This year, the event in Arlington was nearly canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but will carry on with safety precautions in place.
The event in Arlington will be closed to the public but a phased schedule has been established to allow for the participation of family pass holders, the Military District of Washington, soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), and the Wreaths Across America organization.
“We developed this plan to balance our security posture and health and safety requirements with the desire to allow limited in-person participation,” Arlington National Cemetery said. “This plan enables us to preserve our capability to execute our primary mission to bury our nation’s service members and their eligible family members with the honor and dignity the American people have come to expect from Arlington National Cemetery.”
The Senate resolution says Dec. 19 will be designated as “National Wreaths Across America Day” and honors the Wreaths Across America project, patriotic escort units, the U.S. trucking industry, and volunteers and donors involved in the tradition.
“[The resolution] recognizes the service of veterans and members of the Armed Forces; and the sacrifices that veterans, their family members, and members of the Armed Forces have made, and continue to make, for the United States, a great Nation.”