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Headstones at the Quantico National Cemetery had wreaths placed on them during the Eighth Annual "Sgt. Mac Memorial Foundation" Wreath Laying Ceremony Dec. 8, 2013. More than 750 people attended the cremony. (Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Cameron Storm)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Cameron Storm

Arlington, Quantico National Cemeteries seek volunteers to remove Christmas wreaths

23 Jan 2015 | Eve A. Baker Marine Corps Base Quantico

Now that the holidays are past, Arlington and Quantico National Cemeteries are seeking volunteers to assist in removing the wreaths generously donated by Wreaths Across America and the Sgt Mac Foundation in December.

According to a news release from Wreaths Across America, the foundation donated 230,000 wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery, which was enough to cover every grave.

Wayne Hanson, chairman of the board for Wreaths Across America, said approximately 30,000 volunteers helped to place the wreaths on the graves on Dec. 13. Last year marked a significant year for the cemetery, and Morrill Worcester, Maine wreath-maker and founder of Wreaths Across America, said “It seems fitting that we reached our goal [of placing a wreath on every grave] on the cemetery’s 150th anniversary.”

Wreaths Across America supports events nationwide and donated approximately 5,500 wreaths to Quantico National Cemetery as well.

John McColley, director of The Sgt. Mac Foundation and the father of Marine Sgt. Eric McColley, for whom the foundation is named, said the foundation provided 8,320 wreaths to Quantico National Cemetery, thanks to the support of donations from the public, veterans’ groups and corporate sponsors. About 1,000 volunteers came to the cemetery Dec. 6 to place the wreaths on the graves. This coming Christmas will mark the 10th annual wreath-laying sponsored by the Sgt. Mac Foundation, and volunteers can return once again to place wreaths in December. Updates from the Foundation are available at

The wreath clean-up at Arlington will take place on Saturday, beginning at 8 a.m. A news release from the cemetery states: “This is a family oriented event, and we encourage families of all ages to participate. There is no formal sign-up or registration required. Just show up.” Volunteers are encouraged to take the Metro, as there is no public parking available at the cemetery, and to dress warmly, as the event will take place regardless of the weather conditions. Hanson said that individuals are allowed to keep some of the wreaths if they wish, and Boy Scout troops have used wreaths as a base for the bonfires they use during flag retirement ceremonies. Hanson expects that about 5,000 to 8,000 people will participate in the clean-up.

The clean-up at Quantico will take place on Feb. 7, beginning at 8 a.m. Acting cemetery director George Truslow said volunteers don’t need to call ahead, as the event will go on rain or shine there as well. He said organizations such as church groups, local Boy and Girl Scout troops, and Civil Air Patrol groups have assisted with the clean-up in the past, but that fewer people tend to show up if the weather is bad. Like Hanson, McColley also noted that the clean-up efforts do not typically attract nearly the same number of volunteers as the wreath-laying events do.

Arlington National Cemetery is accessible from the Arlington Cemetery stop on Metro’s blue line.

QNC is located at 18424 Joplin Road, Triangle. Volunteers can simply begin at any location in the cemetery and place the wreaths in the dumpsters.


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