Gold Star Dad Remembers Son, Helps Organize the Laying of 10,800 Wreaths at Golden Gate National Cemetary

Volunteers made history Saturday while helping lay wreaths on thousands of graves at the Golden Gate National Cemetery following a moment of silence to mark National Wreaths Across America Day.

The annual wreath-laying at more than 1,000 cemeteries around the nation is meant to remember veterans who have died as well as those who currently serve. 

This year, the Avenue of Flags Committee in support of the Golden Gate National Cemetary was able to reach 10,800 wreaths, making it the largest Wreaths Across America observance the cemetery has held.

J. Kevin Graves, a Gold Star father who lost his son in Baghdad, said that the Walmart Foundation committed a significant amount to the number of wreaths this year.

Rebecca Greenway
J. Kevin Graves helps unload 10,800 wreaths ahead of Golden Gate National Cemetery's largest Wreaths Across America observance in San Bruno. (December 16, 2016)

When he and his wife, Leanne Graves, first began placing wreaths at the cemetery, they calculated it would take 82 years before getting enough wreaths for every grave, so Graves said he is thankful for the support.

Volunteering and support for the annual observance has grown in recent years.

"I'm expecting a big, big, big crowd," Carolyn Livengood, President of the Avenue of Flags Committee, said the evening before. 

Rebecca Greenway
Thousands of wreaths are placed at Golden Gate National Cemetery in observance with Wreaths Across America Day. (December 17, 2016)

After beginning with a short ceremony and somber moment of silence at 9 a.m., when Graves addressed the crowd, volunteers began laying the wreaths. 

Wreaths Across America was founded by Morrill Worcester, owner of the Worcester Wreath Company, who donated his surplus of wreaths at the end of the holiday season to the Arlington National Cemetery.

Contact Us