Thousands of volunteers turn out to lay wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery
© Getty

Thousands of volunteers descended on Arlington National Cemetery in northern Virginia for the annual Wreaths Across America Day to help honor fallen service members. 

Parking lots at the burial ground were quickly filled as the volunteers swarmed to pick up wreaths to lay at the cemetery’s tombstones. The event is part of a nationwide effort that takes place at roughly 1,600 cemeteries across the country to honor veterans. 

“We understand we have Veterans Day in the fall and Memorial Day in the spring, but our service members sacrifice their time and safety every single day of the year to preserve our freedoms,” Wreaths for America says on its website.

“In many homes, there is an empty seat for one who is serving or one who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. There is no better time to express our appreciation than during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.” 

The annual event was started in 1992 when Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, teamed up with former Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine.) to place a surplus of wreaths he had at Arlington in one of the older sections of the cemetery that had been receiving fewer visitors. The event gained national attention in 2005 when a photo of the stones at Arlington, adorned with wreaths, went viral online.