The simple, solitary act of laying a wreath at the foot of a fallen soldier’s grave or at the base of a monument to veterans will soon be replicated from coast to coast on November 11, Veterans Day. Better understanding this symbolic gesture was the focus of “Wreaths of Remembrance,” a feature by Hammock’s Emily McMackin for the November/December 2017 issue of American Spirit. Hammock proudly partners with the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) to publish American Spirit magazine and Daughters newsletter.
The following personal recollection about wreath-laying ceremonies was written by Jennifer Minus, National Chair of the DAR Magazine and U.S. Army Retired. This guest post first appeared on the Today’s DAR blog.
As I read the November/December 2017 American Spirit article chronicling wreath-laying ceremonies, I was struck by how often these ceremonies have figured in my own personal DAR story. I attended my first DAR wreath-laying when I was a Cadet at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and I represented the Margaret Corbin Forum (a Cadet Club) in the annual Memorial Service and Wreath-laying at the West Point Cemetery.
At the time, I didn’t know I was eligible to become a Daughter. A few years later, after my grandmother had completed my papers and I was a member of her chapter, I was visiting family on my son’s first birthday in Bloomington, Ind. We had just visited the courthouse to see my ancestor’s name on a plaque inside, and since it was Veterans Day, the ladies in the local DAR Chapter were placing a wreath at the GAR Memorial. My heart swelled with pride to realize that I was now a part of an organization that visibly and reverently honored our nation’s veterans. Finally, after I had moved back to West Point to be a professor of American History a few years later, I was getting ready to escort Cadets to the annual wreath-laying in the West Point Cemetery, and I realized I wanted to be more active in the DAR.
Although wreath-laying ceremonies usually take a lot of coordination and preparation—and also fervent wishes for nice weather!—they are wonderful community outreach events that promote patriotism and preserve our national history. We can estimate the DAR probably participates in hundreds of them a year; from the annual wreath-laying ceremonies by the DAR President General at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery and the graves of President George and Martha Washington at Mount Vernon; to Wreaths Across America events across the country; and numerous historic marker dedications and Daughter and Patriot grave-markings by chapters. On Veterans Day many of you will participate in a wreath-laying in your local community.
I find that every issue of our publications has an article with which I can connect—it could be somewhere I want to travel, a book I want to read, a historic home I want to visit or an idea I want to share. I hope that you also have this experience, and will also consider ordering a gift subscription for a family member, friend or organization.