WHAT: The Prescott National Cemetery partners with Wreaths Across America to hold its annual holiday wreath-laying ceremony, honoring and remembering our nation’s veterans.
WHEN: Saturday, December 14, 2019, 10 a.m.
WHERE: Prescott National Cemetery, 500 Highway 89 North, Prescott, AZ 86313
PARKING: Parking is not available at the cemetery. Visitors are asked to park at the nearby Northern Arizona VA Health Care System, 500 Hwy 89N, Prescott, AZ 86313.
On December 14, a free shuttle service begins at 8:30 a.m. with the last shuttle to the cemetery at 9:45 a.m.
Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Company, was a 12-year-old paper boy when he won a trip to Washington D.C. The experience was one he would never forget, and Arlington National Cemetery made an especially indelible impression on him. In 1992, Worcester Wreath found themselves with a surplus of wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season. Recalling his boyhood trip, Worcester worked to place wreaths in the older sections of the cemetery that had been receiving fewer visitors with each passing year. The annual tribute went on quietly for several years, until 2005, when a photo of the stones at Arlington, adorned with wreaths and covered in snow, circulated around the internet.
Today, volunteers place holiday wreaths to honor and remember America’s veterans at more than 100 VA national cemeteries, in addition to Arlington National Cemetery and state veteran cemeteries, as part of the annual Wreaths Across America event.
“This annual tribute to our nation’s veterans is more than just a patriotic activity,” said Srey Austin, director of the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona. “Wreaths Across America is an opportunity for VA to partner with key organizations as we honor those laid to rest in VA’s cemeteries.”
The Wreaths Across America ceremonies align with VA’s National Cemetery Administration’s mission to increase public awareness by sharing the stories of America’s veterans through research, education, and community commemoration.
The Prescott National Cemetery, which closed to new interments in 1974, covers approximately 15 acres. Interments were made here primarily because it was a conveniently safe distance from Fort Whipple, which was a target for attacks from local Native Americans. The present site of the cemetery is thought to be its third location. The original cemetery was established in 1864 when Fort Whipple was a camp near Del Rio Springs. It was moved soon after. The cemetery was relocated again in 1869 to its current location because flash floods washed out numerous burials in the previous site. These floods may account for the majority of the 25 unknown graves in the cemetery. In 1999, the Prescott National Cemetery was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Burial in a VA national cemetery is open to all members of the armed forces and veterans who have met minimum active duty service requirements, as applicable by law and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. Members of the reserve components of the armed forces who die while on active duty under certain circumstances or who die while on training duty are also eligible for burial, as are service members and former service members who were eligible for retired pay at the time of their death. Spouses, minor children and, under certain conditions, dependent unmarried adult children are also eligible for burial even if they predecease the veteran. For more information, call 800-535-1117 or visit www.cem.va.gov.