In collaboration with Wreaths Across America, the Board of Trustees for the Connecticut Department of Veterans’ Affairs will be laying Remembrance wreaths on the graves of fallen soldiers to honor the sacrifices they made to the nation. 

According to the Wreaths Across America webpage, the CT DVA is organizing an event on Wreaths Day, Dec. 18, at 12 p.m. to lay wreaths on the graves of every departed veteran at the State Veterans Cemetery in Middletown. Families and friends of fallen soldiers are invited to participate in the wreath-laying ceremony and to “sponsor” a wreath by donating money to ensure that each veteran is accounted for. 

“Please help us honor and remember as many fallen heroes as possible by sponsoring remembrance wreaths, volunteering on Wreaths Day, or inviting your family and friends to attend with you,” said the CT DVA on their webpage for the wreath-laying event.

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The ceremony at the State Veterans Cemetery is one of the “more than 2,800 locations” across the country that will be honoring fallen soldiers with Christmas wreaths. The national effort to recognize and commemorate the lives of departed veterans is in observance of “Wreaths Across America Day”, which is an event observed on a Saturday in mid-December each year.

Among recent sponsors for Wreaths Across America are food chains who have donated a portion of their funds in support of the mission to honor the country’s fallen soldiers. These chains include Jersey Mike’s Subs, which donated $300,000 in 2021 to sponsor the placement of 40,000 wreaths and MISSION BBQ, which raised $362,320 in 2020 for the placement of more than 36,000 wreaths. 

Both company owners further expressed their support for the wreath placement ceremonies in separate press releases. Jersey Mike’s CEO, Peter Cancro, said that it is especially important to learn the powerful impact “that one action has on so many” and to “teach our children the value of Freedom.” MISSION BBQ co-owner, Bill Kraus, said in addition that “we owe everything to our nation’s veterans” and that it is an honor to help remember the fallen and thank “military families for their sacrifices.” 

As stated by Wreaths Across America, the tradition of widespread wreath-laying on the graves of fallen veterans was started by Morrill Worcester in 1992. As the owner of Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine, Worcester discovered there was an extra amount of Christmas wreaths left over at the end of the holiday season and decided to use the surplus to honor the graves of American soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery “that had been receiving fewer visitors with each passing year.” 

Before Wreaths Across America gained national attention, several organizations volunteered to help with the annual wreath-laying, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion and the Maine State Society of Washington, D.C. In 2005, the annual tribute became recognized across the country when an image of wreaths laid across a snow-covered Arlington went viral on the internet.

With “thousands of requests” from people who wanted to help with the ceremony in D.C., the Worcester family eventually started “Wreaths Across America” in 2007 to “continue and expand” the effort of wreath-laying across the country. In 2008, every state held wreath-laying ceremonies and the event was given a national holiday by the U.S. Congress on Dec. 13.

In 2014, Wreaths Across America completed its plan to cover all of Arlington with the placement of “226,525 wreaths.” In the years since, the wreath-laying ceremonies have continued to take place and the journey from Harrington, Maine to Arlington, Virginia has become an annual tradition known as the “world’s largest veterans’ parade.”

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