Kitty Woodward had chills the first time she saw the Wreaths Across America ceremony.
It was so moving she had to be involved. A member of the Paradise Valley National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Woodward is the co-chairwoman of Wreaths Across America campaign.
“It’s a project in which Christmas wreaths are placed on gravesites of veterans in honor of their service so they will be remembered,” she said. “It’s also to teach children the importance of freedom.”
Locally, the program will happen in December at the National Memorial Ceremony of Arizona, 23029 Cave Creek Road, Phoenix. The cemetery has approximated 65,000 graves, and each year more wreaths are placed as veterans are remembered for their service to our country, Woodward said.
The goal of the local program is to lay wreaths on every veteran grave at the National Cemetery in North Phoenix. Many Phoenix residents may have relatives buried there who would love to know how to have a wreath placed.
Woodward sees the wreath celebration as a way to remember fallen veterans; honor those who serve; and teach children the value of freedom.
“Last year our chapter alone laid more than 400 wreaths on the graves of veterans in the National Cemetery in North Phoenix,” Woodward said.
The Wreaths Across America was founded by the Worcester family in Harrington, Maine. As a 12-year-old paperboy for the Bangor Daily News, Morrill Worcester won a trip to Washington, D.C., and Arlington National Cemetery.
He was moved by the trip. So, in 1992, when his Worcester Wreath Company found itself with a surplus of wreaths, he and Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe arranged for the wreaths to be laid at graves in the older section of Arlington National Cemetery.
The tribute continued quietly until 2005, when photos went viral. Wreaths Across America was formed, and in 2018 its national network for volunteers laid more than 1.8 million memorial wreaths at 1,440 locations worldwide. It was accomplished with the help of more than 3,270 fundraising groups.
“We want to have as many wreaths as possible,” Woodward said. “Last year we laid 5,800 wreaths. Our goal is to have 12,000 wreaths in the National Cemetery.