THIS SATURDAY, December 13th thousands of volunteers from all over the
country will gather at Arlington National Cemetery for the annual tradition, Wreaths Across America. The West Virginia State Society and the National Capital Area Chapter are proud to be involved again this year, and with our commitment to placing a truck-full of wreaths on the graves of our country’s fallen heroes, we need your help!
It wasn’t that long ago…. 1992… when 6,000 wreaths were placed join graves at Arlington in this now ongoing holiday tradition. Last year, 175,000 wreaths were placed, and this weekend that figure will rise to 220,000. That’s why we really hope to have you and your friends join us for what I assure you will be a fulfilling experience.
Three types of volunteers needed. First, we need The Early Birds to get the truck, that we are sponsoring, ready. We also need Wreath Layers and Clean Up Crew, whose primary jobs are to lay wreaths, clean up the boxes and put them in the truck and stay with it until it’s cleared to leave. Please email Chris Greaver (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’d like to be a part of the Early Birds or the Clean Up Crew. If you choose to be a Wreath Layer, you just need to show up ready to work. However, It would help our planning to know if you plan to attend, so dropping Chris a line no matter what your plans would be appreciated. And if you are planning to come help, it’s a good idea to bring work gloves, water and snacks.
Donations have allowed Wreaths Across America (WAA) to come very close to covering all of Arlington National Cemetery (ANC). However, donations will be accepted through Wednesday to try and reach the goal of putting a wreath on every grave. If you would like to donate to Arlington or any of the nation’s military cemeteries, visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.
More information about the truck location is posted below. I want to thank you in advance for considering how you might become involved in this great expression of thanks and gratitude for the sacrifices made by the members of our armed forces, and I hope to see you at Arlington, this Saturday.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR VOLUNTEERS
GROUP 1 (Early Birds): You are my diehard, tried-and-true workers. You will be expected to arrive at the cemetery at 6AM this Saturday. As with last year, you are to enter Joint Base Ft. Myer-Henderson Hall from the Hatfield Gate on Washington Blvd. You must present a government ID (such as driver’s license), and your car is subject to inspection. So please leave your guns at home! (Directions: http://www.jbmhh.army.mil/WEB/JBMHH/JBMHH%20Maps%20&%20Directions/JBMHHMapsDirections.html) You will then drive to McNair Road and take a left. Parking will be on the right and you will enter the cemetery at the Selfridge Gate (Map: http://www.jbmhh.army.mil/WEB/JBMHH/JBMHH%20Maps%20&%20Directions/myermapMAR14.pdf). From there you will walk to the amphitheater where you will meet up with me and the WVSS-WVU NCAC team. If you click on this link, you can see that we will be entering the cemetery near Section 16; the amphitheater is the big round circle to the right of Section 46: http://public.mapper.army.mil/ANC/ANCWeb/PublicWMV/ancWeb.html. From 6:30-7ish we will be briefed and then sent to our truck at 7:30. Once at our truck we will assign responsibilities. Those in Group 1 will be assigned to unload the truck, open the boxes, and/or hand out wreaths.
Items to bring: flashlight (it will be dark at 6AM), walking stick (if needed), water, snack bar, warm clothes, proper footwear for the hilly terrain, gloves, box cutter (the boxes are wrapped in cellophane), and a few push brooms to get the needles cleaned out of the trailer.
GROUP 2 (Wreath Layers): You are the worker bees, those that covering the cemetery placing wreaths on graves. The cemetery’s other entrances open at 8AM. Entrances include the maintenance gate by the Air Force Memorial/Pentagon, the main gate, and the entrance from Rosslyn near the Iwo Jima Memorial. All three of these entrances are near Metro, which has suspended track work next weekend. Keep in mind to give yourself plenty of time if you are using the Arlington Cemetery stop, as it gets very crowded. Last year nearly a hundred thousand volunteers arrived, most via Metro! For those driving, I suggest parking at the Hayes Street lot (700 spaces), which is across Army-Navy Drive from Macy*s/Harris Teeter/Bed, Bath and Beyond. From there you can walk up Army-Navy Drive to S. Joyce St. Head toward the Pentagon and when you hit the intersection you will see the maintenance entrance. You can also park in Pentagon North Parking (2100 spaces), but keep in mind that it is roughly a mile from there to either the cemetery’s main entrance or the maintenance entrance. Be sure to get there by 8AM if you wish to go to the opening ceremony (McClellan Gate) or by 9AM at our truck!
Items to bring: gloves, warm clothes, proper footwear, camera
GROUP 3 (Clean-Up Crew): While WAA has changed the procedure to speed things up this year, until we see the plan in action we can’t be sure how fast we can get out of there. A member or members of our team will need to stay with the truck until dismissed by WAA. If you are willing to help with this duty, certainly don’t arrive at 6AM. Come at 9AM and bring a protein bar and bottled water.
Items to bring: camera/phone, warm clothes, proper footwear, food and drink, handkerchief to catch the tears from seeing the spectacle of ~227,000 honored graves.
OTHER IMPORTANT NOTES:
On Friday I will be at the cemetery awaiting our truck. This year there will be approximately 60 trucks, which is a new record. Fifty of these trucks will be placed on Friday. Unfortunately, it is a waiting game and I won’t know our location until I am assigned a truck. I will immediately get the word out of the location Friday evening via the State Society email, Facebook, and Twitter. I will also work with WVU NCAC to get it posted on their social media as well.
Each truck contains XXX wreaths. Trucks will be opened at 9:30AM to begin distribution. Despite the large number, the job could be finished by 11:00AM. However, each person will be given one wreath at a time. This event is not a sprint to see how fast we can get the job done. You are asked to take a wreath, head to a stone in the designated section, pause and reflect on the life given in service to our country, and then come back for another one. The job will get done; save the race for your holiday shopping.
Arlington Cemetery only closes two days a year and both are for WAA. As such, no vehicular traffic is permitted. The Visitor’s Center parking lot will accept those family members with passes, but keep in mind the maximum capacity is 500 automobiles. While we realize this is an inconvenience to those that can normally drive on cemetery grounds, this one-day restriction is for the safety of all the volunteers. The cemetery is also closed on January 24th for wreath clean-up. I hope you will consider helping with that event. More details to come later.
Saturday is the only day we can perform this honored tradition, rain or shine. The cemetery has too many burials to perform to allow for a back-up weather date. A variety of individuals have been involved in the planning of this event, from local first responders, to volunteers, to the military. Keep in mind there is always a chance for something unexpected to happen. For instance, there could be protestors. I will be there the entire time as captain, and if something arises notify me immediately. You may also notice an increased law enforcement presence. This is in response to the unfortunate memorial shooting in Ottawa that took place this fall. Once again, keep in mind that Arlington County, Metro, the National Park Police, and the Army are all trained to provide security and assistance as needed.
Phone use may be spotty on Saturday. Therefore, be sure to check the web, email, and social media for our location before you leave your house. It is advised that once in the cemetery you use text messages as they tend to transmit better than other communications. Some valleys in the cemetery don’t get service, and with all the people in attendance taking photos data streams may get bogged.
No food or drink is permitted in the cemetery. For those coming in Group 1 and Group 3, you are permitted to bring a snack. You are asked to be discrete about it and clean-up after yourself. The cemetery is no place for picnics.
The elevators at the ANC Metro stop will not be working. FYI for those that are handicapped.
Download the ANC Explorer app to find your way around ANC or to find a particular grave.
Finally, if you have a family member buried in Arlington and would like to personally place a wreath on their grave, please arrive by 9AM to ensure you get a wreath first.
Remember: Respect. Honor. Teach…and send Tweets with this hashtag: #121314sayIdid and follow @WreathsAcross
RSVP name and Group participation (1, 2, or 3) to email@example.com
Mr. Chris Greaver
WVU NCAC Secretary