The Senior Veterans Inc. has begun to ask those within Ohio to donate remembrance wreaths for the veterans buried at Dayton and Ohio Western Reserve National Cemeteries. There are currently 100,000 veterans buried at the cemeteries, and the Senior Veterans Inc. is offering $15 donations to get a live, balsam fir wreath for the graves. The donations to get the wreaths can be sent in all throughout the year, but it is strongly encouraged for the donations to be made by Veterans Day, November 11. After the donations have been made, the wreaths will be shipped to the cemeteries where volunteers will place them onto the graves on December 18.
“Dayton and Ohio Western Reserve are the two largest national cemeteries in Ohio with over 100,000 veterans buried there. Every wreath is donated by Ohio citizens as well as corporations, small businesses, and philanthropic organizations. This is a heartwarming way to honor the lives of the men and women who have protected the country we all love, and, most importantly, to see that every gravestone receives a wreath for Christmas.”
-David Bolser, CEO of Senior Veterans, Inc.
The wreaths that will be placed upon the gravestones are made out of balsam fir and have been harvested from northern Maine. Once the donation period has ended, the wreaths will be ordered and shipped to their respective cemeteries. Once the wreaths have been placed, they will remain on the gravestones until early January. Those who donate a wreath will be able to choose to place their wreath within the Dayton or Ohio Western Reserve cemeteries. There is no limit to the amount of donations that people are able to donate.
When donating to the campaign, donors can have their names listed on the website to show that they had donated the wreath. However, if a donor does not want their name to be made public, they can opt into checking out of having their name listed on the donation page.
What is a remembrance wreath? Remembrance wreaths are a wreath that are traditionally placed on top of graves, often being associated with the eternal circle of life. The wreaths are an integral part of remembrance services and highlights. The wreaths and laying them upon gravestones are typically a way for both individuals and organizations to pay their own tributes and respects to those who had lost their lives protecting us.
“The time is ripe for looking back over the day, the week, the year, and trying to figure out where we have come from and where we are going to, for sifting through the things we have done and the things we have left undone for a clue to who we are and who, for better or worse, we are becoming. But again and again we avoid the long thoughts….We cling to the present out of wariness of the past. And why not, after all? We get confused. We need such escape as we can find. But there is a deeper need yet, I think, and that is the need—not all the time, surely, but from time to time—to enter that still room within us all where the past lives on as a part of the present, where the dead are alive again, where we are most alive ourselves to turnings and to where our journeys have brought us. The name of the room is Remember—the room where with patience, with charity, with quietness of heart, we remember consciously to remember the lives we have lived.”
-Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember: Uncollected Pieces
Organizations and individuals typically choose when to remove the wreaths on their own, with no specific time frame being set for them to have the wreaths placed. It is best to keep the wreath fresh if you are using a real floral wreath, removing it when the flowers and leaves begin to wither. It is highly recommended by warmemorials.org to take the time needed to inform those who will take part in the remembrance of when the wreaths will be placed, and when the wreaths will be taken off. While some may be upset if the wreaths are taken off at a time that may feel premature to them, it is important to not leave the wreaths on for too long to avoid the deterioration process from beginning atop the grave. As well as the deterioration, wreaths that are left on for too long can sometimes stain the gravestones if they are left on throughout wet weather.
The most important part about the remembrance wreaths, however, is just that - remembering those who have passed on. Many of those living within the United States have at least one family member who has been traumatized by war, or a family member that has fallen during war. Those alive family members remembering those who have died in war often look for ways to honor their loved ones, or ways to bring attention to the tragedy of war. Sometimes doing something as simple as leaving a wreath on a gravestone can show those who have lost their loved ones that we acknowledge and appreciate the sacrifice that their loved one had gone through for us, and that we will keep their gravesite in tidy condition and well cared for. As well as this, it shows that we, as humans, will continue to look after each other and be there for those who are in less fortunate circumstances. Especially those struggling through the tragedies of war.
“...we should be remembered for the things we do. The things we do are the most important things of all. They are more important than what we say or what we look like. The things we do outlast our mortality. The things we do are like monuments that people build to honour heroes after they've died. They're like the pyramids that the Egyptians built to honour the Pharaohs. Only instead of being made out of stone, they're made out of the memories people have of you. That's why your deeds are like your monuments. Built with memories instead of with stone.”