ARLINGTON, VA. (CBS) — The third Saturday in December is “Wreaths Across America Day.” Volunteers all over the country lay wreaths in honor of the men and women who served this country.
The program began at Arlington National Cemetery 25 years ago, but this year, it was a challenge to raise enough money to mark all the graves.
Janice Chance visits Arlington cemetery several times a year – carrying a picture of Marine Corp. Captain Jesse Melton III, her son.
“I want them to remember that Jesse was a man that loved God, his family and his country. He was willing to sacrifice,” Chance said.
Melton was killed eight years ago while serving in Afghanistan.
Chance will return to the cemetery this Saturday, when wreaths are placed on every grave.
Thousands of volunteers placed more than 240 thousand wreaths at Arlington last year.
Eighteen wheelers filled with wreaths from the Worcester Wreath Company in Maine are heading to the cemetery now. The company has been supplying wreaths for 25 years now, but this year – it was a struggle to raise enough money to cover all the markers.
“It brings tears to my eyes. (I) made a pledge to myself that we want to make sure we cover all of Arlington. And I’m happy to say that it looks like we’ve done it this year again,” Wayne Hanson, chairman of Wreaths Across America, said.
Kelsey Laster has been helping to lay wreaths at Arlington since 2012.
“I enjoy doing it and it is a humbling experience to be able to help the community,” Laster said.
Chance says the program sends a valuable message.
“I think its’s important we teach our children that freedom is not free. There is a cost to freedom. Somebody has to pay a price.”
When the volunteers fan out this Saturday, the Gold Star mom will honor one of the soldiers buried there.
“I go and I lay that wreath and I say ‘job well done.’ “
Wreaths across America estimates it will place more than a million wreaths this year. If you want to volunteer or to donate a wreath, visit wreathsacrossamerica.org