SCHUYLERVILLE – In sun, snow or rain, the 12th annual Wreaths Across America ceremony will be held next month at the Gerald B. H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery.
The holiday-themed ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 16, starting at 12 p.m. It honors fallen heroes by laying remembrance wreaths that can be sponsored by relatives, friends, fellow Americans and businesses locally or nationwide.
In addition, at state houses including the Capitol building in Albany, a 3-foot memorial wreath with all military service flags will be placed on Monday, Dec 11, ahead of the ceremony in Schuylerville.
The theme for 2017 is “I’m an American. Yes, I am.”
In 2015, there were 2,900 locally sponsored wreaths. Last year that number increased to 7,028. With projected interments to be 10,900 veterans at the Saratoga National Cemetery by December, organizers hope to make this year the first that wreaths get placed at all gravesites.
Individuals, businesses and groups from communities nationwide will sponsor wreaths. They will be placed in all 50 states from Maine to Alaska and Hawaii, at several locations in Iraq, and at 24 national cemeteries on foreign soil.
Cadets and senior members of the Mid-Eastern Group Civil Air Patrol, along with local Patriot Guard Riders, will preside over the Schuylerville ceremony. The Honor Guard Association will present the colors, conduct a rifle salute and provide the bugler.
Simultaneously, Wreaths Across America events honoring veterans will occur at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia and participating locations nationwide.
The events follow a weeklong annual pilgrimage that starts at a wreath factory in Harrington, Maine. Last year 110,000 of the Worcester Wreath Company’s products were laid at Arlington National Cemetery.
In 2016, 1.2 million Christmas wreaths donated from Maine journeyed to 1,228 national veterans’ cemeteries and memorial sites across the country.
The history of the ceremony dates back to 1992, when Wreaths Across America Founder Morrill Worcester wanted to send a surplus of 5,000 wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery. The Civil Air Patrol answered the call.
With assistance and guidance from former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), the local squadron in Machias, Maine, helped Worcester fulfill his grand wish by escorting trucks filled with wreaths to Arlington. A group of cadets also spent over four hours laying the wreaths at the cemetery and helped to start what is now known as Wreaths Across America each December.
Twenty-five years later, 58,000 Civil Air Patrol members and volunteers run over half of the 1,000 ceremony locations. The laying of wreaths at the local Gerald B. H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery began in 2006.
The cost of the wreaths is $15, and the deadline for sponsorships is Monday, Nov. 27.
Volunteers are also needed to help place wreaths on Dec. 16 and then remove them on Jan. 20, 2018. Directions for volunteering and ceremony details can be found on the Wreaths Across America website listed below.
For more information or to sponsor a wreath, visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.