Remembering Our Fallen Heroes
By E. Hovey
Each year at the beginning of December two holiday traditions commemorate the lives of America’s fallen heroes. If you participate in one or both of these memorable events, you will find it worth the trip.
At dusk on Saturday, Dec. 6, the graves of the more than 23,000 soldiers who were killed, wounded or missing at the Battle of Antietam are illuminated. The candles are lit by volunteers in cooperation with the American Business Women’s Association, in preparation for the hundreds of cars that will drive through the graveyard at the Antietam National Battlefield. At 6 p.m., cars with only parking lights lit will wind their way through five miles of road meandering between and around the tombstones. Each flame flickers for just a few hours, commemorating the life of a casualty from that horrific 1862 battle. Plan to arrive early to join the line of cars that can take as long as two hours to reach the entrance. The battlefield is accessible along Route 34 in Sharpsburg. Pedestrians are not permitted. The rain date is Saturday, Dec. 13. For a map and other details, log onto www.nps.gov/anti/planyourvisit/luminary.htm
Another memorable event takes place in Arlington National Cemetery where the public is invited to either join the volunteers to help distribute wreaths to be placed against each tombstone or to come as an observer. Morrill Worcester, the president of Worcester Wreath Co., of Harrington, Maine, started Wreaths Across America in 1992 with the delivery to the cemetery of 5,000 handmade Christmas wreaths. The company has created this tradition and continues to donate and arrange delivery each December. This year, the event will take place at noon, Saturday, Dec. 13, and in commemoration the 150th anniversary of Arlington National Cemetery, the goal is to cover all of the 230,000 gravesites with a fresh green wreath.
The tradition of wreath placement has spread throughout the nation and this year 725,000 wreaths will be distributed for gravesites at more than 900 locations throughout the United States and beyond. Your group or organization can get involved with a donation, by serving as a fund-raiser or by volunteering to place the wreaths. Wreaths can be purchased through the website for $15 for one, $75 for five and upward from there. Acknowledgement is then sent either in memory of or in honor of. More information can be found on line: www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/