On Friday, 8 January, 2021, volunteers from the Office of Business Transformation participated in the completion of the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. Together with service members from across the Army Staff, National Guard Bureau, and even the Department of Navy and Air Force, the combined team removed hundreds of thousands of wreaths that had been laid over the holidays to recognize and remember our veterans.
This year’s wreath-laying looked a little different from years past. Typically, 30,000 to 40,000 volunteers gather to lay simple green wreaths with red bows on veteran’s graves. Due to the pandemic, public participation in the ceremony was restricted in order to keep the volunteers and cemetery staff safe.
Of course, not remembering our veterans and their families was not an option. The brave men and women buried in the cemetery deserve remembrance, and thankfully the leadership of the Army quickly moved to ensure that this was not a tradition that would fade away because of the pandemic. So in typical military fashion, PowerPoint presentations were created, coordination meetings were held, safety briefs were given, and in the end a small team of local military volunteers quickly transformed the Arlington National Cemetery during the holiday season.
For those of you thinking about volunteering next year, make sure to take time while you are there to reflect on where you are and what you experience. When you stop and look out across the hundreds of thousands of grave stones, recognize that each grave represents a personal story of service to our constitution. Combined, each of these stories weave together to form the fabric of our nation and who we are today. We may not be able to see it, feel it, or even understand it, but we can try to appreciate and remember those who have given to each of us our moment and our time to build a more perfect union.