Minnesotans help lay wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery

The wreaths came from Maine by semi truck, escorted by veterans on motorcycles.
MinnPost photo by Devin Henry
The wreaths came from Maine by semi truck, escorted by veterans on motorcycles.
The Minnesota group laid about 50 wreathes in section 13 of the cemetery.
Photo by Joan Guilfoyle
The Minnesota group laid about 50 wreathes in section 13 of the cemetery.

Joan Guilfoyle, a board member of the University of Minnesota Alumni Association who moved to Washington two years ago, organized the Minnesota group after she helped take down last year’s wreaths — itself a “wonderful and moving experience,” she said.

About 15,000 volunteers helped lay the wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery.
MinnPost photo by Devin Henry
About 15,000 volunteers helped lay the wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery.

The wreaths came from Maine by semi truck, escorted by veterans on motorcycles. Most ended up on headstones in the cemetery, but the group also placed wreaths at President John F. Kennedy’s gravesite, the USS Maine Memorial, the Sept. 11 memorial at the Pentagon and the Tomb of the Unknown Solider. They’ll be on display until late January.

Wreaths Across America hopes to lay a wreath on every grave in the cemetery one year.
MinnPost photo by Devin Henry
Wreaths Across America hopes to lay a wreath on every grave in the cemetery one year.

Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/12/2011 - 10:55 am.

    while this is in some ways moving gesture by well intentioned people, I need to point out that these wreaths should NOT be placed on every grave. A huge debate broke out here locally on the organizations Face Book page because members of the Jewish faith object to having Christmas wreaths placed on their love one’s graves. They should skip graves with a Star of David on them, they did not. Several images from around the country and Fort Snelling show wreaths placed on Jewish graves, and a friend of mine had to actually remove it from her loved one’s grave site.

    When asked to respect other faiths many members of this organization responded with derision and disregard for those asking not to have wreaths placed on Jewish grave sites. Some argue that these aren’t “religious” symbols despite the fact that these are clearly Christmas wreaths, evergreens, with pine cones and red ribbons etc. Other claimed that the wreath itself is actually pagan symbol, which ironically is even MORE offensive to Jews who suffered oppression at the hands of Pagans even before they were persecuted by Christians. Yet others complained about Jews who are failing to appreciate an attempt to honor their dead. There is nothing honorable about placing an offensive symbol on someones grave site. This is an unwanted and unwelcome gesture that can be easily avoided.

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 12/12/2011 - 12:18 pm.

    Anybody who’d go out of their way to say that a holiday wreath placed on a grave is offensive has other agendas.

  3. Submitted by Zach Curtis on 12/12/2011 - 05:06 pm.

    Anybody who would go out of their way to place a wreath on the grave of a person of a faith other than Christian, especially after being repeatedly asked not to do so, has a very specific agenda, in my opinion. One which is not too subtle to boot.

  4. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 12/13/2011 - 09:11 am.

    I read this story yesterday. Thought about it and find that however one looks at the wreath, it’s an Advent wreath and hanging such wreath on the grave of one who supports another religion is a careless bit of holiday giddiness and offensive to some.

    Good intentions or stupidity or a need for conformity quickly is reduced to a control factor; degrading, victimizing the choice of others…be it even in the very wars that left too many young men and women, ours and theirs, buried six feet under rather than alive; a living, breathing part of whatever society?

    Unwanted wreaths stand in the shadows of a greater injustice…the recently reported landfill dumping of how many bodies of our military; a landfill used as a burial ground for how many without even benefit of family?

    I suggest hanging those unwanted wreaths over the heads of those sick military officials so responsible. Then light a candle or two on that same circular greenery crowns tied with a red bow?

    We have done some strange things in this nation lately and an unwanted wreath becomes a controversial hallmark here; dissolving even one’s right to choose even after dying?

    A wreath has its distinct origins in European, medieval, pagan rites…and I suggest, does not make for even a great Christian symbol?

    Black wreaths were ,some time ago, used on doors when a family member died…my mother’s childhood experience with same… so we never has an Advent wreath on our door, and I bring that subjective attitude, legacy, here also I suppose.

    Many of the dead in Arlington would love to be alive or if they died for god and country willingly, let it be the right god or lack of same, so respected.

  5. Submitted by Dolores Benton on 06/13/2012 - 07:44 am.

    This is a great way to show respect to the families of those who died during war.

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