Our Opinion: Wreaths for Heroes blossoms from humble beginnings

News Tribune editorial

Wreaths for Heroes combines traditions from two holidays – Memorial Day and Christmas.

During the observance, beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, wreaths will be placed on military graves in Jefferson City National Cemetery on East McCarty St.

Decorating graves is a tradition on Memorial Day, observed each year on the last Monday in May.

Memorial Day originated as Decoration Day after the Civil War to honor the Union and Confederate soldiers who died. Today, volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.

The wreath is a symbol of the Christmas season. Decorative wreaths have been traced to ancient Rome, where they were used to symbolize victory. Wreaths also were common in European folk practices and, in the 16th century, were adopted by Christians to celebrate their Advent hope in Christ.

Just as traditions associated with Memorial Day and Christmas have expanded through the years, so interest in Wreaths for Heroes expands.

Its local origins began six years ago, when a several veterans and elected officials placed seven wreaths on graves.

Its popularity swelled in 2009, when volunteer Lorraine Adkins linked the local observance with the national program, started in 1992.

On Saturday, hundreds of local volunteers are expected to place wreaths on 1,588 markers at the cemetery.

Undaunted by tenuous beginnings, dedicated volunteers have nurtured the local observance, which now is firmly rooted among our cherished holiday traditions.

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