ARLINGTON, Va. – UPDATE
The Secretary of the Army has directed Arlington National Cemetery to safely host Wreaths Across America this year.
This reversal comes after leaders with Arlington National Cemetery announced Monday they were canceling the cemetery’s annual Wreaths Across America event on December 19 out of a concern for safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leaders with Arlington National Cemetery said they will provide more information and a final schedule for the event soon.
A team with Wreaths Across America has been working closely with the cemetery over the last seven months to develop plans that would ensure safety, according to the organization.
After leaders with Wreaths Across America learned of Arlington National Cemetery’s decision Monday night, the team “jumped into action to help clarify misinformation being shared online about the program and discuss other options.”
According to Wreaths Across America, leaders with Arlington National Cemetery are willing to work with the organization to develop safe options for the 2020 event.
There are 2,500 other locations participating in Wreaths Across America this year. Those events will adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines, according to Wreaths Across America.
Out of a concern for safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, Arlington National Cemetery has canceled its annual Wreaths Across America event.
The event is also canceled at the Soldiers' and Airmen’s Home Cemetery.
The beloved tradition includes coordinated wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as more than 2,100 other locations in the U.S. and abroad. While this year’s ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery is canceled, it’s not yet clear if other local ceremonies will also be canceled. This year’s National Wreaths Across America Day is December 19.
Organizers with Arlington National Cemetery said they didn’t make the decision lightly, but they wouldn’t be able to mitigate the risks associated with hosting an event of that size.
“...We could no longer envision a way to safely accommodate the large number of visitors we typically host during this event," said Karen Durham-Aguilera, executive director, Office of Army National Cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery.
Family pass holders and visitors are still welcome to visit the cemetery on their own time and place flowers or wreaths at gravesites, according to organizers.
Organizers hope to be able to host the event safely in 2021.
Click or tap here for more information and updates on Wreaths Across America.