Honoring the Fallen at Christmas – Wreaths Across America Sarasota

 In Military, Veterans

Rick Ferran of Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children participated as a volunteer for Wreaths Across America on Saturday, a national organization that places Christmas wreaths on tombstones at National Cemeteries across the nation. They laid wreaths at the National Cemetery in Sarasota, Florida.

“Today was a very solemn experience volunteering to place Wreaths on the tombstones of our fallen buried here in #Sarasota #Florida National Cemetery. It is heart breaking to understand the amount of sacrifice by our veterans. Our small cemetery is nothing compared to #arlingtonpark #wreathsacrossamerica.” Rick aka ‘Tank’ 

Rick told us they were all very professional as they laid the wreaths. Every branch of service was represented at the event.

volunteers gather to unload the truck

Coins on the headstones

The kind of coin they leave on the headstone is an indication of the type of relationship they had with the fallen military service member. A penny means that the grave was visited and respects were paid. A nickel means that the person was at boot camp with the subject. A dime means that the visitor served with the service member at some point in time. A quarter means that the visitor was present at the time when the deceased fell.

The coin tradition may have started during the Vietnam War, but some say it may go back as far as the Greeks/Romans who placed coins in the eyes of the deceased person to pay for their “entrance into the afterlife.”

Coins left on the headstone have meaning

This year, some areas did not receive enough wreaths. Wreaths Across America has been doing this for 26 years, bringing honor to the lives of those who have fallen. Literally thousands of people showed up to volunteer in the laying of wreaths from one end of the nation to the other.

In Sarasota, which is the only National Cemetery in their area, Rick advised us that it took them an hour to leave the cemetery after the event due to the amazing number of volunteers.

When the wreaths are laid, the volunteers are encouraged to speak the name of the person whose name appears on the headstone as a reminder that we should remember their lives.

“A person dies twice: once when they take their final breath, and later, the last time their name is spoken.”

Today was “Wreaths Across America Day” all around the country- including Arlington National Cemetery.

Photos provided by Rick Ferran on December 16, 2017 from the Sarasota event.

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