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Wreaths Across America At VA National Cemeteries

Courtesy Wreaths Across America

Black Hills National Cemetery will host the annual Wreaths Across America wreath laying ceremony this weekend at its facility located just outside the town of Sturgis. 

This is the 10th year the cemetery has taken part in the nationwide event which dates back to 1992.

It began as a “happy accident” when the Worcester Wreath Company had extra wreaths available at the end of the 1992 holiday season.

Company owner Morrill Worcester had been impacted by a visit to Arlington National Cemetery as a boy. It was an experience that reminded him – even at that age - that his family’s good fortune was due in large part to those veterans who’d made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Credit Courtesy Wreaths Across America
Wreaths being placed at Arlington National Cemetery in 2010.

Worcester asked for permission to lay the company’s excess wreaths at Arlington in 1992. Wreaths Across America spokesperson Tobin Slaven picks up the story.

“After they placed the wreaths that first year they said, ‘We feel really good about what we’ve done. We want to come back and do it again,” explains Slaven. “And they continued to do that for about 15 years. It was a quiet company project and without much fanfare.”

Until 2005….

“There was a light dusting of snow,” Slaven recalls. “And an Air Force press corpsman took a photo of the wreaths with the red bows in the snow. And that became what we call ‘The Iconic Photo’…because it went viral on the web. And all of a sudden this little company up in Maine started receiving phone calls and e-mails.”

And the annual event turned into a national effort to recognize deceased veterans at the holiday season. The “Wreaths Across America” organization was founded in 2007 and now places 900,000 wreaths at more than 100 locations nationwide.

Black Hills Veterans Administration spokesperson Teresa Forbes says wreath-laying ceremonies will take place this Saturday in Sturgis and Hot Springs as part of the Wreaths Across America tribute.

Credit Courtesy Black Hills National Cemetery
Black Hills National Cemetery locations at Sturgis and Hot Springs are part of the Wreaths Across America tribute.

“The ceremony offers a time to kind of take a pause during this busy holiday season so that we remember and honor our cherished veterans who’ve been laid to rest at the VA national cemeteries,” Forbes observes.

The public is invited to each ceremony, where seven wreaths are laid…one for each branch of the military and one in memory of all those POWs and MIAs. 

*Ceremonies at the Black Hills National Cemeteries near Sturgis and in Hot Springs begin at 1o a.m. on 12/12/15.

**The Civil Air Patrol is once again coordinating wreath ceremonies around the country as a part of Wreaths Across America.

For information on Wreaths Across America ceremonies at other locations go to: