On National Wreaths Across America Day (Saturday, December 15), groups of volunteers and loved ones will honor and remember those that served our country during touching tributes at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as at over 1,400 additional sites across the United States, at sea and abroad, including Calverton National Cemetery in Calverton.
Locally, Team Rubicon – Region II, a disaster response organization composed of military veterans and qualified civilians, is spearheading a team during the coordinated wreath-laying ceremony at Calverton National Cemetery. The ceremonies will commence nationwide promptly at 11:30 a.m.
Maureen Fioresi Rutkowski of East End Cares, a local online forum that connects those in need with humanitarians who want to lend a helping hand, who has volunteered with Team Rubicon on multiple missions, is among the local Team Rubicon team who is taking part in the event for the first time.
“One of the reasons I’m pushing it hard is because Team Rubicon is involved with a lot of Wreaths Across America events,” Fioresi Rutkowski noted. “The closest one happened to be in New Jersey. I thought that’s crazy. Calverton is our largest national cemetery. Let’s try and get one there.”
There are 270,000 veteran graves at Calverton National Cemetery (NYCNCC) and the group hopes to cover at least 67,500 graves with the handcrafted remembrance wreathes. To do so, they need generous donors to sponsor the wreaths. So far, according to the Calverton Wreaths Across America website, only 4,062 have been sponsored. The wreaths, which are constructed in Columbia Falls, Maine, are made with all-American balsam and hand-tied with a red velvet bow.
During the ceremony, volunteers will place a wreath on the marker of a fallen hero. Then, the volunteer will say the name of the veteran “to ensure that the legacy of duty, service, and sacrifice of that veteran is never forgotten.” Location coordinators will provide instructions on where exactly to place wreaths, and also cover how they should be placed.
“We understand we have Veterans Day in the fall and Memorial Day in the spring, but our service members sacrifice their time and safety every single day of the year to preserve our freedoms. In many homes, there is an empty seat for one who is serving or one who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” Wreaths Across America’s website explains. “There is no better time to express our appreciation than during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. We hope you will join us at any of our more than 1,400 participating locations to show our veterans and their families that we will not forget. We will never forget.”
You can support National Wreaths Across America Day by either volunteering at a site or sponsoring a wreath, which starts at $15, and there are several sponsorship levels. You can sponsor one, a Patriot Pair (one wreath is placed at the grave of a veteran and the other is delivered to your home or whoever you designate), In Honor and Memory Of (a sponsor wreath that pays tribute to living veterans and those that have passed), or a Grave Specific Request (volunteers will commemorate and remember a veteran by placing a wreath on a specific grave – this option is only available at select cemeteries).
Those interested in sponsoring a wreath or volunteering can visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.
“If someone wants to get involved, they can show up at Calverton National Cemetery,” Fioresi Rutkowski added. “There will be a ceremony and then instructions on how to lay the wreath. Anyone can show up and help.”
Calverton National Cemetery (NYCNCC) is located at 210 Princeton Boulevard in Calverton.