ARLINGTON, Va., Jan. 25, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Wreaths Across America (WAA), the national nonprofit responsible for the placement of veterans' wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) each December and at more than 1,235 local cemeteries nationwide, will hold its annual wreath retirement at ANC on Saturday, Jan. 28, beginning at 8:45 a.m. Volunteers are encouraged to attend to help retrieve the 245,000 wreaths placed on Dec. 17, 2016, at this family-oriented, "all are welcome" event.
"The wreath-laying tradition of Wreaths Across America extends beyond our work in December," said Karen Worcester, WAA's executive director. "Retiring the wreaths in January is a big part of the process, and we see this as another opportunity for thousands of people to again come together to remember, honor and teach, and say each name out loud."
The retirement process of the wreaths is another significant undertaking, and a responsibility WAA takes seriously. Each live, balsam wreath is a gift of respect and appreciation, donated by a private citizen or organization and placed on the graves by volunteers as a small gesture of gratitude for the freedoms Americans enjoy. For centuries, fresh evergreens have been used as a symbol of honor and have served as a living tribute renewed annually. Wreaths Across America believes the tradition represents a living memorial that honors veterans, active duty military and their families.
Details for the wreath retirement day at Arlington National Cemetery are:
- Sign-up or registration is not required to participate. Just show up at the designated time and place.
- A short volunteer instructional briefing begins at 8:30 a.m. at the McClellan Gate (also known as McClellan Arch) located off Eisenhower Drive between sections 33 and 12, on McClellan Drive. Wreath clean up starts at approximately 8:45 a.m.
- There will be no general public parking at the Welcome Center parking lot until after 3 p.m.
- Due to the limited and restricted parking requirements, we encourage volunteers to use the Metro rail system.
- If you use the Metro rail system, here are some helpful hints:
- Use a SmarTrip card for a round trip
- Buy your SmarTrip card in advance to avoid delays – not on Saturday morning. You can purchase a card at any station or online at http://wmata.com/fares/smartrip/
- Visitors and volunteers should expect long lines and crowded conditions when entering and leaving the Arlington National Cemetery station.
- The cemetery's Welcome Center parking lot opens at 8 a.m. Parking is free until 2 p.m. Only vehicles with permanent ANC family gravesite passes and those with valid handicap permits are allowed to park at the Welcome Center parking lot.
- Vehicles with handicap parking permits will be accommodated in the ANC Administrative Building parking lot, until it reaches capacity. Overflow vehicles with handicap permits will be accommodated in the ANC parking garage, until it reaches capacity.
- Any vehicles arriving before the cemetery's opening at 8 a.m. will be required to depart and return at 8 a.m. Bus parking for approximately 33 buses is available in the Welcome Center garage.
- All ANC pedestrian gates open at 8 a.m. Clockwise from the north, these gates include the Ord & Weitzel gate (near the Iwo Jima Memorial and Rosslyn Metro), the main cemetery and the Welcome Center gates (nearest Arlington Cemetery Metro), the south Maintenance Complex gate (nearest Pentagon and Pentagon City Metro) and the Fort Myer Old Post Chapel gate.
- PLEASE NOTE: The Maintenance Complex gate closes at 2 p.m., so if you want to exit via this gate, please make sure you do so before that time.
- For the safety of all involved, no private vehicles are allowed to enter the cemetery grounds until after 3 p.m.
- Volunteers should pick up ONLY those WAA wreaths placed in December, leaving any other wreaths or decorations in place. Dispose of the wreaths in the dumpsters placed throughout the cemetery. Dumpsters are limited so volunteers need to pack the wreaths as tightly as possible in them. Volunteers are asked to stay at least until 12 p.m., if possible, to help with any extra wreath disposal needed at locations throughout the cemetery.
- It is helpful if you bring a stick, pole, rope, rake or something equivalent to support carrying multiple wreaths per dumpster trip. Please dress for the weather and wear gloves and waterproof footwear.
- For the latest updates and notifications about the wreath-laying and cleanup events at Arlington, we encourage you to sign up for our Arlington updates email list at www.wreathsacrossamerica.org and by checking these Facebook pages: www.facebook.com/ArlingtonWreaths, www.facebook.com/WAAHQ, www.arlingtoncemetery.mil.
About Wreaths Across America
Wreaths Across America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded to continue and expand the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery begun by Maine businessman Morrill Worcester in 1992. The organization's mission – Remember, Honor, Teach – is carried out in part each year by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies in December at Arlington, as well as at more than 1,200 veterans' cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond. For more information or to sponsor a wreath please visit www.WreathsAcrossAmerica.org.
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SOURCE Wreaths Across America