CemeteryThe holiday season is full of so much joy and wonderful opportunities to give. And while it’s fun to watch your friends and families open their special presents,  WVU grads from all over the D.C. area joined 20,000 others at Arlington National Cemetery this past Saturday to give thanks and pay tribute to many who we never knew, nor will ever meet.

The Wreaths Across America initiative honors those who have served so gallantly in our nation’s armed forces, and is intended to honor and remember the sacrifices of our brave men and women, and to teach our children about their commitment. The Arlington gathering was one like those going on in all 50 states, at sea, and in 24 foreign countries where U.S. military are buried. The West Virginia Alumni Association National Capital Area Chapter and the West Virgiuia State Society sponsored one of nearly 40 long-haul trailers packed with thousands of Christmas wreaths, each one eventually placed by a volunteer on the gravesite of a soldier.

WV NCAC wreaths crew
WV NCAC wreaths crew

A handful of WV alums gathered at the cemetery’s amphitheater at the break of dawn to receive instuctions, and shortly after we were joined by dozens of WV volunteers, soldiers, and others wanting to pay humbrage to the soldiers and remember them. The air was crisp, and patches of snow dotted the hallowed grounds. At 10:00 AM sharp, WV NCAC and State Society members began unloading almost 4,000 wreaths from the WV truck alone, handing them out to volunteers who solemnly placed them on graves in our assigned area.

 It only took us about two hours to fill our areas, and the sight of row after row of Christmas wreaths on the graves was truly awe-inspiring. I encourage you to think about joining us next year, and if you’re wondering whether you should, think of the WV state motto:

Montani Semper Liberi

Mountaineers Always Free

Certainly that freedom comes from a spirit born into each of us, but it is also due in large part to the sacrifices of those we were privileged to honor and remember this past weekend.