By Cary Collins
On Saturday, December 17 at 12 Noon Eastern Standard Time at cemeteries across the United States, beautiful holiday wreaths were placed at gravesites in honor of military veterans and their families, including prisoners of war and those listed as missing or killed in action. Spearheaded by the Gold Star Mothers of Washington State (moms who have lost a son or a daughter killed in action in the service of our nation), 2,700 individual gravesites were decorated at Tahoma National Cemetery this year through the national Wreaths Across America program. Each year the evergreen wreaths are purchased by private donation and placed in cemeteries by volunteers who range from pre-school-age children to World War II veterans who gather during the holiday season to bear witness and give back to those who have given so much. Chaplain Lt. Colonel William Adam of the Washington Wing of the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary—Civil Air Patrol served as the master of ceremonies. In 2008, 143 wreaths were placed at Tahoma National Cemetery, a number that swelled to 900 the year after that. In 2010, 800 were placed, in 2011, 1,200, in 2012, 1,800, and, in 2013, 1,386. In 2014, between 900 and 1,000 were placed and, last year, 1,900. Organizers anticipate the continued growth of this annual nationwide ceremony of remembrance.