Wreaths Across America

Jo Ellen Hayden


The holidays are a time to reflect on gratitude and giving back to our communities. One incredible program honors the legacies and sacrifices of America’s veterans each December. They’re hoping that central Kentuckians will band together to show their gratitude during “a year unlike any other.”

On December 19th each year, Wreaths Across America hosts wreath-laying ceremonies at more than 1,600 locations to Remember our fallen US Veterans, Honor those who serve and Teach future generations the value of freedom. One of these WAA ceremony locations is Camp Nelson National Cemetery in Nicholasville.

On December 19th each year, Wreaths Across America hosts wreath-laying ceremonies at more than 1,600 locations.

Like many nonprofit organizations, Wreaths Across America is facing unique challenges in 2020. But the WAA group that serves Camp Nelson is determined not to let COVID keep them from carrying out their mission. Jo Ellen Hayden explains, “The veterans who rest at Camp Nelson National Cemetery were devoted to keeping America free for future generations: we are not going to let the pandemic prevent us from paying tribute to them.”

That said, things will be different this year. To stay in compliance with COVID-19 restrictions, only registered volunteers will place wreaths. The wreaths will be placed on war and service memorials as well as graves for which a wreath has been specifically requested during the sponsorship process. “There will also be wreaths placed on the gates so that when you enter the cemetery, you will know that every veteran has been honored symbolically at a time when circumstances prevent placing wreaths on each grave,” Hayden says.

The National Cemetery Administration has issued guidance that no spectators will be allowed at the ceremony. Instead, the ceremony will be posted to the Wreaths Across America, Camp Nelson National Cemetery (@KYCNNC) Facebook page. Wreaths will be placed by the afternoon of December 19th, National Wreaths Across America Day, for public viewing. The wreaths remain in the cemetery for about a month for visitors to see through the holiday season.

In 2019, there were over 10,000 wreaths sponsored for Camp Nelson’s 16,000 graves. While the team had hoped to sponsor wreaths for every grave this year, there is a unique opportunity. The WAA will rollover any wreaths sponsored above their 2020 goal as a credit toward the 2021 goal. Hayden explains, “We can build a base in 2020 and be well on the way to meeting our goal of 16,000 wreaths before 2021 even starts, especially if community groups, youth organizations, civic groups, and businesses will come forward and help us get to our new 2020 goal of 8,500 wreaths.”

Every wreath is funded solely through donations and sponsorship: Wreaths Across America receives no government funding. WAA Day would not exist without the kind giving of individuals and local businesses. To learn more about supporting this cause, visit wreathscampnelson.org. •