Devastated, Wreaths Across America reacts to cancellation of annual event

Wreaths Across America Day takes place on Saturday, December 19th.
Wreaths Across America Day takes place on Saturday, December 19th.(Gray tv)
Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 7:52 AM EST
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Wreaths Across America says it was told on Monday that Arlington National Cemetery will not allow the placement of veterans' wreaths on National Wreaths Across America Day this year, which is scheduled at more than 2,400 other participating cemeteries across the country for Saturday, Dec. 19.

In a statement, the Maine-based group wrote “As an organization, we are shocked by this unexpected turn of events. To say we are devastated, would be an understatement. It has been a trying year for all, and we too, want all our volunteers, donors and their communities to remain safe!”

WAA went on to say that its team has been working for months with local, state and national officials to make sure that all outdoor wreath-placement events could be conducted safely and in accordance with local rules.

“Like our U.S. Military, we will adjust and adapt,” wrote the group. “And work together towards fulfilling the mission which is to Remember, Honor and Teach. Our Gold Star Families have lost too much for us to just give up.”

“We did not make this decision lightly. Despite the controls developed to disperse potential crowds in time and space, and required personal safety protocols, we determined that hosting any event of this scale risked compromising our ability to accomplish our core mission of laying veterans and their eligible family members to rest,” stated Karen Durham-Aguilera, Executive Director, Office of Army National Cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery. “We reviewed various options to safely execute this long standing event and held numerous consultations with WAA leadership and local government and public health officials. We understand that although this is disappointing for so many, we could no longer envision a way to safely accommodate the large number of visitors we typically host during this event.”

The superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery said he hoped the wreath laying would be able to be held in 2021.

WAA said it would provide details as soon as possible about ways to help their mission this year.

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