INDIANAPOLIS - Volunteers across Indiana are honoring fallen military heroes one wreath at a time. Wreaths Across America began in 1992, when a wreath maker donated 5000 Christmas wreaths that were placed at graves at Arlington National Cemetery. Since then the organization has grown to more than 300 locations, including 10 in the Hoosier State.
Dana Vann, the coordinator at the Indiana State Soldiers' Home Cemetery in West Lafayette, described her involvement.
"My son is actually buried at Arlington and that's why I went out to start the project a couple of years ago," she said. "I can't go out there every Christmas so I do it here and I get a lot of satisfaction out of doing things for other veterans."
In the first year, Vann said, they had enough sponsors to put wreaths at half the graves. She hopes in the coming years there will be enough donations to adorn all the resting places of all military members at the cemetery. Ceremonies will be held Dec. 14 in each state and overseas, and the goal this year is to place 500,000 wreaths on veterans' graves nationwide.
Vann said the project is all about remembering and honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. She said many graves at the cemetery in West Lafayette go unnoticed.
"There are wreaths at ones that, some of them, they go back to the Civil War," she said. "A lot of these graves are never visited by anyone, and this wreath that we place on their grave may be the first time they've had something placed on their grave in many, many years."
The wreath-laying ceremonies are held at noon the same day at each cemetery across the nation. Vann said many military families participate even though they may not have a relative laid to rest there.
"They had a father or brother or someone that served in the military, and maybe they're not buried there, but they find that it's kind of a tribute to them to come be part of our ceremony," Vann said.
She said they are always looking for sponsors and volunteers who can help transport wreaths. More information is available at WreathsAcrossAmerica.org.