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December 13, 2012 Published in Holiday Happenings, Other News

Wreaths Across Alexandria – “Remember, Honor And Teach”

By Ripley Forbes

Hundreds of volunteers gathered at Arlington National Cemetery to place more than five thousand donated Christmas wreaths on head stones in section 27 of the cemetery Dec. 15. The 14th annual wreath laying event is a result of Harrington, Maine, based Worcester Wreath Company owner Morrill Worcester's boyhood dream of doing something to honor those laid to rest in the national cemetery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jim Varhegyi)

The placement of evergreen wreaths on the stone markers of veterans who served and sacrificed for our nation began at Arlington Cemetery in 1992 and now is observed in hundreds of cemeteries large and small every December.  At noon this Saturday, Dec. 15, there will be Wreaths Across America remembrance ceremony at the Alexandria National Cemetery.   The Saturday observance marks the 10th year that Wreaths Across America has conducted an observance ceremony in Alexandria.

Originally known as the “Soldiers’ Cemetery”, the Alexandria National Cemetery was one of the first military cemeteries established in 1862 to honor thousands of Union soldiers killed during the Civil War.

The Alexandria ceremony will be organized again this year by VFW Post 609 under the leadership of Commander Bill Jones.  Jones has been coordinating the event for three years and said “speaking for our veterans this is one of the highlights of our year to place wreaths on the graves of our comrades who lay at rest here at the oldest veteran’s cemetery in the country.”

The 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation (January 1st) is only a few weeks away.   This is an especially appropriate time to reflect on the service and sacrifice of those who served in the Union Army; especially those soldiers of the U.S. Colored Troops (U.S.C.T.).  The Alexandria National Cemetery is the final resting place for many who served in the U.S.C.T.    Their final epitaphs of service, courage and sacrifice can be found in the many simple weathered stone markers on the hillside of Section B.

The names of veterans on Civil War era headstones and knowledge of their contributions to our freedoms have faded with the effects of time and weather.  It does honor to their memory that we take a moment to pause in the rush that is the holiday season and reflect on their service, remember their sacrifices, wonder where they lived and where they died.

To learn more about Wreaths Across America go to www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.  Saturday’s Alexandria observance is open to the public.  The Alexandria National Cemetery is located at 1450 Wilkes Street, just west of Old Town and only six blocks off Route 1.

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