Melissa Kearns, director of Hampton National Cemetery, said the more people who show up for the event, the better as nearly 7,000 wreaths need to be laid on the graves of veterans.
This year’s theme, “Everyone Plays a Part,” serves as part of Wreaths Across America’s mission to “remember, honor, and teach, ensuring that the memory of those who served our country endures.”
“It gives us the opportunity to come out, say [the veteran’s] name, what they mean to us, and remember the sacrifices they made,” Kearns said.
The national cemeteries in Hampton and Yorktown are both participating in National Wreaths Across America Day along with Arlington National Cemetery and more than 1,600 other national cemeteries across the country.
Maribel Beckwith is the Wreaths Across America program coordinator at Hampton National. She said this year’s 3,500 publicly sponsored wreaths is the most she’s seen in nine years, but it’s not nearly enough.
“There are 33,000 graves at Hampton National Cemetery…our goal for next year is to get the community to become engaged and supportive enough to place a wreath on every veteran’s grave next year,” she said.
The deadline to sponsor a wreath closed on Dec. 2 but Kearns said those who still want to place a wreath can bring their own as long as it’s in compliance with the cemetery’s floral/grounds policy.
Beckwith added wreaths sponsored after the deadline will rollover to the program in 2020.
Wreaths are being prepared for placement on Dec. 14 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. before a ceremony beginning promptly at noon.
Kearns advised attendees arrive early as parking is limited at Hampton National Cemetery located on Hampton University’s campus at Cemetery Road.
“The main focus is for those in the community to come out and remember the sacrifices that the veterans have made for our country,” she said.
For more information about Wreaths Across America, sponsoring a wreath, and how to help at Hampton National or Yorktown National cemeteries, click here.