DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Every year, volunteers take time to lay wreaths on the graves of military members buried at national cemeteries across the country. It is for Wreaths Across America.

Afton and Audriana enjoy being part of the annual wreath laying ceremony.

“Feels really nice to honor them when this is such a special time in the year,” Afton said.

They are members of the American Heritage Girls, which is one of the sponsors of the Dayton National Cemetery Chapter of Wreaths Across America.

“The people here, we didn’t get the chance to know them while they were here. So we’re kind of just paying our respects when we lay the wreaths on their graves,” Audriana said.

The laying of the wreaths happens every year during a ceremony in December at national cemeteries across America. It is a way to honor the men and women who fought for our country.

There are more than 60,000 people buried at the Dayton National Cemetery, and Wreaths Across America hopes to cover each grave. Justin MacKellar, the Volunteer Site Coordinator for the Dayton National Cemetery Wreaths Across America Chapter, said this year, there will not be as many wreaths to lay.

“We’re a little low. We’re sitting, I think, at 3,500 wreaths. Last year, I think we had over 6,000, so a little low for the year,” MacKellar explained.

MacKellar said this is the first time wreath sponsorships have been down in recent years. While he is still hopeful for a big turnout on the day of the ceremony, they are also looking ahead to next year.

“I believe there’s about 20 different agencies that help us gather these wreaths every year. So our goal is more outreach through the coming years and seeing if eventually we can cover every gravesite here,” MacKellar said.

No matter how many wreaths are laid, the goal remains the same: making sure no one forgets the sacrifices made by our military.

“My grandfather is a veteran. He was in the Army, a foot soldier. So pay my respects to the people in my family and the people who aren’t in my family,” Audriana said.

Wreaths Across America Day is Saturday, December 17, 2022. The ceremony begins at Noon at the Dayton National Ceremony with a procession starting at 11:45 a.m. MacKellar said there is a chance not everyone will get a wreath to lay, but he still encourages people to attend the ceremony and pay tribute.

It is too late to sponsor a wreath for 2022, but you can start sponsoring wreaths for 2023. Click here to donate and learn more.