For the second straight year, Los Altos residents can participate in the National Wreaths Across America Day ceremony.
The event is scheduled 10 a.m. Dec. 16 at cemeteries throughout the country, including Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Los Altos.
Last year, participants placed an estimated 1.2 million wreaths on veterans’ graves across America – including at Arlington National Cemetery. This year, Gate of Heaven is among more than 1,200 cemeteries in the U.S., at sea and abroad expected to take part in the wreath ceremony. Attendees are asked to say the veteran’s name aloud as they place the wreath on the grave to remember and honor his or her life and sacrifice.
American Legion Post 642 in Cupertino is one of the main organizers of the local event.
“Last year we covered the whole veteran section, and this year we hope to increase sponsorship to reach all veterans in the cemetery,” Post 642 Commander David Han said.
The mission of the post is to “serve veterans by meeting their needs and advocating for them on the state and national level,” Han added.
The Monta Vista High School Choir and the San Jose Opera Military Veterans Choir are set to sing at the ceremony. Scheduled speakers include retired Lt. Col. John Swensson, a De Anza College professor and Vietnam veteran who will discuss his experiences, and Maj. Gen. Rob Ostenberg, who will share the history of Wreaths Across America.
Established in 2007, Wreaths Across America is run by Executive Director Karen Worcester, wife of Worcester Wreath Co. owner Morrill Worcester. The wreath-laying tradition began when Worcester Wreath Co. had a surplus of wreaths in 1992 and was inspired to place them on the graves of veterans in less-frequented areas of Arlington National Cemetery.
“A person dies twice – once when they take their final breath, and later, the last time their name is spoken,” Karen Worcester said in a press release.
To cover the graves of all veterans in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Han said American Legion Post 642 is reaching out to both large corporations, such as Apple Inc. and HP Inc., and smaller local businesses and churches. Sponsors include the Kiwanis Club and Knights of Columbus. Han said they are close to reaching their goal but are not quite there yet.
They seek monetary donations – from companies and individuals – to purchase wreaths, as well as volunteers to help staff the event.
Gate of Heaven Cemetery is located at 22555 Cristo Rey Drive.
To donate, volunteer and for more information, visit wreaths.fastport.com and type “Los Altos” in the search bar to find Gate of Heaven.