Remember. Honor. Teach.
While we have Veterans Day in the fall and Memorial Day in the spring, our servicemen and women sacrifice their time and safety every single day of the year, to preserve our freedoms. And in many homes across the U.S., every day there is an empty seat for one who is serving, or one who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. That is why our mission to Remember, Honor and Teach lasts all year long, far beyond the single day in December when we coordinate wreath-laying ceremonies. All throughout the year, Wreaths Across America works in a number of ways to show our veterans and their families that we will not forget—we will never forget. Read on to see the many ways we Remember and Honor our veterans, and Teach the next generation to do the same.
Remember our fallen veterans.
When a volunteer places a wreath on a veteran's grave on National Wreaths Across America Day, we encourage them to speak that veteran's name aloud, thank them for their service and sacrifice, and reflect on that person and their life. Along with our wreath-laying ceremonies at cemeteries throughout the country, WAA also holds a number of special memorial ceremonies, including:
- Special memorials held at Pearl Harbor, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania
- The HART Ceremony (Honoring Allies and Remembering Together), conducted each year to honor veterans of our nation’s allies in ceremonies on international border-crossing bridges between Calais, Maine, and St. Stephen, New Brunswick; Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario; and Sweetwater, Montana, and the Alaskan/Canadian border
- WAA-hosted statehouse ceremonies in nearly all 50 states
In addition, WAA continues its commitment to remember our fallen servicemen and women all throughout the year with the following:
Remembrance Tree Program
The Veterans Remembrance Tree Program was established as another way to remember and honor our veterans. As Gold Star families visited the land where the balsam tips are harvested each year for the wreaths that are placed on veteran’s graves, they found a sense of peace and tranquility form the land. WAA established a program to give them a living memorial to their lost loved ones.
Each family can contact WAA and give information on their loved on. Due to the overwhelming support of this program, WAA has purchased its own dog-tag machine, allowing the families of the veteran the ability to customize their message for the tag. The family is taken out to the balsam tip land to find a tree that will become their living memorial to their loved one. The dog-tag is then placed on the trunk of an evergreen tree of their choosing. A red marker is placed on the tree to show that it has been chosen as a memorial. The trees are kept in production and are tipped every three years; those balsam tips are then used to make the veteran’s wreaths that are placed each December.
This program is open to all families who have had a loved one in the military. For more information, please call: 1-877-385-9504
Located at the National Wreaths Across America Headquarters in Columbia Falls, Maine, the WAA Museum is a 1,800-square-foot facility showcasing hundreds of items that have been donated to Wreaths Across America over the decades, including personal photos, awards, uniforms, helmets and other military memorabilia. All donations help to provide insight and tell the greater story of the experiences of U.S. military personnel.
“Over the years, hundreds of people have shared precious memories and donated their personal belongings to us to ensure that the legacy and sacrifices of their loved ones survives,” said Karen Worcester, executive director, Wreaths Across America. “This Museum is the perfect forum for us to share their stories and the valuable items that we’ve been so honored to receive, while at the same time offering the public a place of comfort and healing.”
The WAA Museum, located at 4 Point Street in Columbia Falls, ME, is open year-round. Visiting hours are Monday through Friday, from 9AM to 3PM.
Honor those who serve.
Wreaths Across America conducts several programs to honor our veterans, including our popular “Thanks-A-Million” campaign, which distributes FREE thank-you cards to people all over the country to share with veterans as a simple thank-you for their service.
The group participates in veterans’ events throughout the year and has a veteran liaison on staff to work with local veterans’ organizations, as well as public outreach through Veterans Day and Memorial Day programs, public service announcements, press coverage and the WAA website.
Teach our children the value of freedom.
Wreaths Across America is committed to teaching younger generations about the value of their freedoms and the importance of honoring those who sacrificed so much to protect those freedoms. Our convoy to Arlington stops at many schools along the way. We offer learning tools, interactive media projects and opportunities for schools, 4-H, scouts and other youth groups to participate in our efforts.
A downloadable curriculum and coloring books are available to help school children appreciate the roles our veterans played in preserving their freedoms. These materials are designed to encourage the direct involvement of local veterans.
What is a Veteran's Wreath?
Each balsam bouquet that comprises a veteran's wreath symbolizes a special quality. Please check out the materials below that help to explain those qualities in order to help to deepen your and your child's understanding and personal connection with our core mission.