Come Saturday, thousands of deceased veterans across the state, and many more across America, will be remembered with a little holiday gift.

Volunteers are invited to lay wreaths on 1,756 graves at Omaha National Cemetery as part of the annual Wreaths Across America memorial event.

The event is scheduled for 11 a.m.

Wreaths Across America began in 1992, when the Worcester Wreath Co. in Maine donated surplus wreaths to place on headstones at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington.

The program expanded after 2005, when a photo of the Arlington wreaths went viral.

The Civil Air Patrol and various civic groups promoted and expanded the project on a national scale.

Last year, more than 1.3 million wreaths were laid at 1,700 locations across the country. This year, the number of locations has risen to 2,000.

Sign up for The World-Herald's afternoon updates

Receive a summary of the day’s popular and trending stories from Omaha.com.

Mary Blodgett of Elkhorn brought the project to Nebraska in 2006 after reading about it in Reader’s Digest. Her father served in World War II, and her five brothers served in the military — three of them in Vietnam.

In Omaha, wreaths were laid at Forest Lawn Cemetery until 2016, when Omaha National Cemetery opened in western Sarpy County. Blodgett said the number of wreaths donated has more than doubled in the past two years.

Last year, more than 2,000 volunteers came out to help. The number of cars overwhelmed the cemetery.

This year, Blodgett said, volunteers are asked to park at Werner Park in Papillion and ride shuttle buses to the cemetery. Only cars with handicapped tags will be allowed to park at the cemetery. Shuttles will begin running at 9 a.m.

Bill and Evonne Williams, creators of the “Remembering Our Fallen” memorial wall and organizers of flights to Washington for veterans, will lead the program. The guest speakers will be Col. Gavin Marks, commander of the 55th Wing at Offutt Air Force Base, and Rep. Don Bacon, a retired Air Force brigadier general.

In Lincoln, Brig. Gen. Lynn Heng of the Nebraska Army National Guard will be the keynote speaker at a wreath-laying ceremony at Wyuka Cemetery, where 1,800 wreaths will be laid.

A cold front is expected to bring chilly weather Saturday. There is a chance of light snow, and the high temperature is forecast to be in the low 20s.

In addition to Omaha National and Wyuka Cemeteries, ceremonies are planned at 12 other sites across Nebraska, according to WreathsAcrossAmerica.org:

  • Forest Lawn Cemetery, Omaha
  • Old Fort Crook Post Cemetery, Offutt Air Force Base
  • Elwood Cemetery, Elwood
  • Mt. Hope Cemetery, Valentine
  • Fort McPherson National Cemetery, Maxwell
  • Hemingford Cemetery, Hemingford
  • Memorial Cemetery, Fremont
  • Nebraska Memorial Veterans Cemetery, Grand Island
  • Pawnee City Cemetery, Pawnee City
  • Steele Cemetery, Falls City
  • St. Cyril and Methodius Catholic Cemetery, Prague
  • Westlawn Memorial Park, Grand Island

Wreaths will remain on the graves until mid-January.

Sign up for The World-Herald's afternoon updates

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Recommended for you

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.