Due to a drop in wreath donations this year, Arlington National Cemetery may be scaling back one of its most celebrated traditions.
The cemetery annually honors the nation's deceased veterans by placing wreaths on their graves during the holidays. But the organizers expect that many graves will go without wreaths this year, as donations for the headstone decorations have significantly fallen, reports CNN.
Last year, close to one-third of the cemetery was covered with wreaths. But the goal is always to decorate all the Arlington gravestones. And volunteers make a point to always cover the headstones located in Section 60, the portion of the cemetery with the graves of Iraq and Afghanistan solders.
The wreaths cost around $15 each to make. They are created at Wreath Co. in Maine, then taken by truck to the cemetery. The organization was more than $500,000 short of its fund-raising goal, leading to close to 35,000 fewer wreaths being made this year.
Wayne Hanson of "Wreaths Across America" says that the wreath-laying will still begin on December 14. But there is still time to make donations through the group's website. In 2012, more than 400,000 wreaths were donated through Worcheste, which started the tradition in 1992. About 100,000 of those went to Arlington. The remaining ones were sent to veterans cemeteries across the country.
It is most likely that the drop in donations to Arlington this year is a result of people donating wreaths to other cemeteries, reports WFMY. This year Wreaths Across America was hoping to put 135,000 wreaths on headstones, but it has enough for only 95,000 wreaths so far.