LITTLE FALLS — Thousands of wreaths with big red bows will soon cover the graves of the nation’s fallen veterans at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery in Little Falls.
As the sun rises on Dec. 14 there will be several semi trucks loaded with wreaths to be placed on the veterans’ graves in a few hours. Dozens of volunteers will be on hand to unload and stage the wreaths in the various sections at the cemetery. Preparations will be underway to serve hot beverages and refreshments for the many people who will arrive to assist in the ceremony and wreath laying.
Shortly after noon the task will be complete. A sea of fresh balsam wreaths with big red bows will cover all the veterans’ graves.
“The task of providing the several thousand wreaths gets larger each year as there are between 300-400 interments there each year,” John Thomas, president of WreathsForTheFallen.org, the organization that has assumed the primary responsibility for executing this task, said.
“One of the questions we receive is where do the wreaths come from? As far north as Shevlin down to Big Lake, Minn., there are people harvesting the balsam bows and making the wreaths.
“The last few years we have made it possible for families to request a specific wreath to honor a family’s loved one at the cemetery. Upon providing us with the veteran’s name and date of birth, we look up the exact location in the nationwide gravesite locator. A specific procedure has been developed to ensure the named veteran will receive a wreath in honor of their family. To the best of my knowledge we are the only organization in the country that is providing this service for the fallen veterans, families and friends,” Thomas said.
The ceremony and wreath placement are open to the public on Dec. 14. It’s suggested those attending arrive before 10 a.m. to get parked and warm up inside before the ceremony starts at 11 a.m. sharp. Wreath placement begins at about 11:20 a.m.
For those who would like to make a general donation to this cause, feel free to contribute to the wreath general fund. Information is on the www.WreathsForTheFallen.org web site. Everyone is invited to participate in the wreath laying ceremony.
For additional information, contact John Thomas at 829-6622 or go to www.WreathsForTheFallen.org a tax exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.