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'Wreaths Across America': Volunteers lay remembrances on graves of veterans

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Saturday, Dec. 15, 2013, volunteers across the nation, from Dallas, Texas to the National Cemetery in Arlington, Virgina, gathered at cemeteries to do their part to make sure that the graves of America's veterans, no matter where they were buried, were not forgotten during the Christmas holidays. The purpose of the annual event, "Wreaths across America," is to provide and place a wreath at the graves of America's fallen.

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Unfortunately, this year there was some concern whether there would be enough funds to provide all of the wreaths needed for the most visible veteran cemetery of all. The Stripes reported that though "Donations were up for wreath-laying ceremonies nationwide," there was still a major problem. "The budget for the largest observance – at Arlington National Cemetery – was more than $500,000 shy of the goal," needed. Over 400,000 veterans are their families rest at Arlington.

Once citizens became aware of the need to supply 135,000 wreaths, more than enough donations from those eager to help poured in to cover the shortfall. On Saturday, volunteers spread out placed 143,000 fresh balsam “Remembrance Wreaths” in less than two hours. Set against the simple white headstones, the Arlington landscape was transformed.

“Today is not a sad day; today is a celebration,” Frisco City Council member and veteran Tim Nelson said as volunteers lay hundreds of wreaths at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery. Still, a photograph of a woman hugging the headstone of George Edward Pickett, at Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Virginia captures the poignant reverence of the event.

The Facebook page of "The Arlington Wreath Project," with over 700 active members in 50 states, describes their mission to:

REMEMBER the fallen;
HONOR those who serve;
TEACH our children the value of freedom.

For those who wish to volunteer their time next year to place "Wreaths across America," in their hometown or city, an interactive map was created. It provides the perfect opportunity to sign up or donate to remember the veterans of your loved ones at Christmas.