PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. – Volunteers and staff laid holiday wreaths on the nearly 400 graves and monuments at the Presidio of Monterey cemetery during the fourth annual Wreaths Across America event on Saturday, December 19.
“I’m grateful for everyone that’s here, that came and showed their support, even in the midst of COVID-19. Everybody’s masked-up and spaced out,” said Nate Pleasentbey, Presidio of Monterey Survivor Outreach Services Support Coordinator, who organized the event.
Due to COVID-19 protocols on the Presidio of Monterey, this year’s event was private, with only uniformed service members, their dependents, and Gold Star family members on site. Each participant wore masks and maintained social distancing as they placed the wreaths. Even though the pandemic makes events like these more complicated, it was important the event proceeded.
Pleasentbey said this event was a, “Great opportunity to reassure survivors that their sacrifice, their hero, is never forgotten.”
While the non-profit organization Wreaths Across America (WAA) coordinates the national campaign, it would not be successful without the help of local volunteers and organizations.
“For those who have had the opportunity to participate in the escort of wreaths over the years, it is truly an experience of a lifetime,” said Karen Worcester, executive director, WAA. “The way we have been welcomed into communities . . . is something we always wished every American could witness.”
Each December, on National Wreaths Across America Day, wreaths are laid at Arlington National Cemetery and more than 2,100 additional locations in all 50 states, at sea, and abroad. Organizations and individuals sponsor wreaths directly with WAA, who then distribute the wreaths to individual cemeteries.
“Because we’re a federal entity we’re not allowed to take a direct donation,” said Pleasentbey, “But through [WAA] organizations can sponsor the Presidio of Monterey.”
The holiday season can be a time of reflection for our military families. In many homes, there is an empty seat for one who is serving or one who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Events like these allow families, survivors, and military communities to recognize that their sacrifices and loved ones are respected, honored and remembered.