SCHUYLERVILLE — Hundreds of people braved some 30 inches of snow to place a wreath on each of the graves at the Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery as part of National Wreaths Across America Day on Saturday, Dec. 19.
There were 13,100 wreaths delivered to the cemetery to place on the headstones of veterans from all branches of service interned at the cemetery, named after former U.S. Rep. Gerald Solomon.
The majority of the wreaths were placed on Saturday by scores of volunteers of all ages who trudged through snow to each headstone, but due to COVID and the snowstorm, the day was extended through Jan. 1, 2021.
The traditional opening ceremony was canceled this year, but the Patriot Guard Riders did hold smaller ceremonies at the graveside of veterans who received a Bronze Star and/or other accolades.
Wreaths Across America Day happens each year on a Saturday in the middle of December at more than 2,100 locations across the country, at sea and abroad.
It started when Worcester Wreath in Maine had a surplus of wreaths in 1992. The company owner Morrill Worcester, remembering a trip to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC when he was 12, decided to donate the wreaths to the older parts of the iconic cemetery where fewer people were visiting each year.
A trucking company, Blue Bird Ranch, volunteered to haul the wreaths to Washington and volunteers from the local American Legion and VFW posts distributed the wreaths to each grave.
The annual tribute continued quietly until 2005 when a photo of the adorned graves hit the internet. By 2006, thousands of requests came in from across the country to help out and to bring the effort to local national cemeteries. A year later, the non-profit Wreaths Across America was founded with the goals to “remember, honor and teach” — remember the soldiers, honor their service and teach youth about the sacrifices made for this country.