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article imageThousands of volunteers lay wreaths on veterans' graves

By Jane Fazackarley     Dec 12, 2010 in World
Volunteers gathered together yesterday to lay thousands of wreaths on the memorials and graves of veterans in the United States.
This is the fifth year that the ceremony has been held. Last year volunteers from Wreaths Across America(WAA) laid over 160,000 wreaths and over 100,000 volunteers took part in the nationwide service.
Many of the wreaths that are donated come from businesses, individuals and groups who buy them through the Wreaths Across America programme, which was founded by the Worcester Wreath Company. Others buy the wreaths themselves and place them at local cemeteries.
WAA is an expansion to the Arlington Wreath Project which was established in 1992 when 5000 donated Christmas wreaths were laid at the Arlington National Cemetery. In 1995, when a picture of the snow covered wreaths was distributed on the Internet, the programme began to get national attention and the group was inundated with requests from people across the States who wanted to take part in a similar project.
In 1996 150 wreath laying ceremonies were held concurrently and in 2007 the non-profit Wreaths Across America was established to supply wreaths to VA national cemeteries and state veteran cemeteries.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said:
“This is one of the most beautiful events repeated across the country as thousands of volunteers honor our Nation’s heroes."
“It is inspiring to see the volunteers show their respect and gratitude for the Veterans who served our Nation.”
This year the red-bowed wreaths were placed at 131 cemeteries and memorial sites. The number of families taking part in the ceremonies and in the laying of the wreaths has increased with each year.
The Houston National Cemetery is expecting 28,000 wreaths to be placed this year and 13,000 volunteers will lay them. At the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery in California 1,500 people including officials will take part in the ceremony. A group called Friends of National Cemetery raised enough funds to ensure that each of the graves at the cemetery in California had a wreath.
And at the Hampton National Cemetery in Virginia 6000 wreaths will be laid. Members of military youth groups and veterans groups will help to lay them.
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